'Saab paise de do bhookh lagi hai, do din se khana nahi khaya'
'Kyun bey, chal aage chal, nikal bahut teji se nikal'
'Saab aapki jodi salamat rahegi' ,
Jodi he to nahi ban pa rai, chal nikal nahi to padega abhi ulte haath ka, bhag yahan se !
I heard this piece of hurried conversation.It happened before my eyes.A poor child , dressed up partially in rags and quite good at displaying his poverty was now standing before me.I noticed him trying the same dialogue with almost a dozen of the pedestrians crossing the busy streets of Chowk in Lucknow, and now it was me.
'Saab paise de do bhookh lagi hai , tumhari jodi salamat rahe'
'kya naam hai tumhara?'
Listening to this , he looked at me straight in the eyeball , he smiled , and said again 'Babuji do rupaiya de do, badi bhookh lagi hai', and he spoke this line with the best of his command, for a moment i felt that he attends a daily class where he is taught all these sentences, in a mundane tone.
While i was thinking, he cantillated again
'Babuji do rupaiya......'
I said 'paisa denge, pehle naam batao' , the next expression on his face was anger mixt with despair.
Had I said something different like 'aage bado', 'nikal yahan se', or may be an abusive word, he would have pursued is efforts ahead , but the boy knew his clients very well. I know that they all are smart street sellers, they know each and every particular human expression with the slightest movement of their eyebrow and movement of lips, and calculating the probability of these gestures they push their cacophonic oration.That's smart, really smart.
'Saab paisa de do' - I think this was the last attempt from his side, because I felt so from his eyes.
'Accha lo, pehle naam batao' - I took out a two rupee coin and advanced towards him.
He said 'munna'
'Kahan rehte ho'
'Puliya ke neeche' , and as he was preparing for the move towards next client, he suddenly stopped when he heard me saying 'Kuch khaoge?' without a second thought he said 'haan' with a shine on his face, and a hideous grin.
This part was 'trust' which i developed with him. I offered him a cup of tea, and bun-butter. He ate with elegance but ate ravenously. He had a small jaw and the piece of the bun which he wanted to bite was far bigger, he was hungry, the hurry to eat was not in order to finish the meal but it was because of the taste he was enjoying. I felt great feeding him. It was the first time I did so, and the act was out of generosity.
He ate it all, the tea added to his expressions, by now he looked peaceful, his eyes were tranquil, I knew now how mad and restless a human could be without food, 'no war was fought empty stomach'.
The boy was seemingly quenched, he demanded no money, I bought him a pack of Parle-G and some toffees, so that he could relish for sometime before begging, he took it from my hand so proudly, as if he won a battle and now obliging me with his victory. He smiled thankfully and a sense of sincerity that was conspicuous on his face.
I paid my bill and turned back, he was gone.
I looked hurriedly here and there, couldn't see him.
We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for - is the greatest poverty.