FOREWORD: A tribute to the little one who actually exists …
It was 4 30 PM of a hot sultry afternoon in the Bandra Kurla Complex by the turn of Wockhardt towers. The kind of concretized shadeless place which would send even the toughest of folks packing away.To evade the harsh nature of the Sun, setting away, but making a defining farewell statement with its rays.
She was walking by the signal, the little one, in crutches.Hardly ten, she wondered why she was walking in crutches , considering that the only one she knew who walked in crutches was the old lady who lived nearby who apparently had no legs.
But she had legs. Even then, why the contradicting utility!
It will make you a better actor. In the long term, some movie director from Mumbai will pick you up for your excellent acting ! In the short term, you get to drink cold clean water every Sunday
Chachaji’s wise sounding words echoed through her head.
Chachaji is always right ! she thought. He must be . He was a good man according to her though her little heart urged her to think otherwise, of a different possibility of Chacha ji’s character.
Hey here come the people! she sidelined all thoughts as she saw the vehicles approaching the signal. She dragged herself on the crutches, taking extraordinarily well acted care not to let her feet use their muscles. You have to convince them that you are lame! Chachaji used to advise. She went to a taxi, asked for alms and was shooed away.
She stepped back, waited for a few breaths and went back to the same taxi, but from the other side where the shooing man’s wife was sitting. Maa Bhookh lagi hain! she said with the best expression of grief she could possibly conjure up. It worked … the lady took pity and gave her a 5 rupee coin.
One more triumph! This Sunday, ice water guaranteed ! She thought. She was about to throw her crutches away and dance like that tall beautiful lady she saw on that thing called TV, while hiding under Chachaji’s bed. What did they call her? Haan ….Katirna or was it Kartina ?? Well ! who cares! Someday I will beat her level of fame …hmmph! She was victorious! She need not care about insiprations . She was sure she was an incredibly dextrous actress and will continue for that day. She should not be satisfied with one 5 rupee coin. What if she gets three of them or maybe four???
Then three ice water glasses ??? No! She couldn’t be so ambitious. Become like Katirna ? Maybe! But three ice water glasses in one Sunday is impossible. She bit her lips to stop thinking of what she thought were things only the Gods can get. She cursed herself for thinking such things!!
Then she thought of Chachaji, the person who saved her and many kids when they were babies. She didn’t remember her parents at all. Ungrateful people ! Insipte of having such a talented actress for a daughter, they couldn’t take care of her and abandoned her! Only Chachaji the clever person recognized her talent. So did he recognize the talent of other such kids.
All of them would be actors someday.And all of them were to do different roles…. of a blind boy, of a dumb girl etc. And her of a lame girl. The moment passers by gave you coins…. Chacha ji used to say …. it means one more person could nt see through your acting … see thats the way to do it.
To reward the deserving the 15 kids at chachaji’s place used to get a glass of cold water on sunday if they fooled more number of people that week. Which suffices to say they got Chachaji more number of coins.
Suddenly she had a flash. Why give all these coins to Chachaji ? Are not these coins valuable ? And why did Billu the 8 yr old new boy in Chachaji’s acting school lose his eyes last week, when his collection was low, (like in that stupid but famous movie I heard of ) ? The other kids said Billu was so disappointed he couldn’t act like a blind boy properly and hence, gorged out his own eyes to realistically get into the role play. But whosever heard of a 8 year old mustering that sort of guts ??? Rumour has it Chacha ji punished him for notbeing able to act ? Oh God ! Is Chachaji good or bad ? Is he just exploiting us with impossible dreams ??? Oh no …
Just then, a car pulled over nearby. A foreigner who was very tall and pretty looked out. The girl did the crutch act fabulously , perhaps, in her head, even more tragically than a real lame person with crutches. The aura of tragedy must have been perfect in those moments. And these foreigners cetainly have lots of money. Perhaps the girl thought, I transcended all the barriers of acting perhaps I reached a God level! Perhaps I actually can wish for more glasses of ice water in one Sunday ! Hahaha ….
At that moment, the foreign lady , for lack of any coins on her and for not being used to the coldness of a regular Indian crowd (who are used to seeing so many beggars) felt an over whelming pang of pity for the lame kid. She took out a 10 rupee note, the lowest denomination she had in her purse and gave it to her with a smile.
I am a Goddess now she thought . She never caught a 10 rupee note in her life. She could count 1 to 10 in the numbers. Thats pretty much the extent Chachaji taught her. And now she has the highest denomination she could possibly recognize. Only superstars get highest. I am heavenly. I am immortal. I can get three glasses of ice water. Oh no! I am going to burst … she thought.
Then she saw the foreigner tell the driver.The signal is green now. lets go. And then, in what was the funniest way of speaking Hindi (according to the little girl), the foreigner said, Jaldi !Jaldi !!
Haha! that was funny! I am a superstar now. my fears are baseless. I have done the impossible with my acting skills. I can mock anyone . I am all powerful. And then she shouted after the foreigner who gave her alms, mocking the former , with a supremely confident aura , Jaldi! Jaldi !! And that moment was her moment of arrogance ! Her moment of snobbishness! Her moment of superstardom…
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