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We lived in Chennai for several years and Pondy bazaar is one of the busiest streets for street shopping in Chennai .  I miss street shopping now when I shop in these air conditioned high end malls . Anyways , the memory what I want to share here is not a street shopping experience  . Once in middle of such a street shopping exploration I met a little girl who would be around 5 years. This incident was years back .. around 7 years back .

She was a lovely girl who lives on those streets . She and her family begs for a living during the day and sleeps on one of those foot paths when all those shoppers and sellers return home and when the streets go quiet . I am someone who doesn't entertain giving money to people on streets as I neither want to be someone who contribute to make people lazy nor want to be a passive supporter of those money minting rackets which makes money exploiting people .I want to help people who needs genuine help who are helpless and have done best of what they could and still couldn't make it to meet their needs. So as I mentioned already I never give money to people who come and beg on streets , but I buy food for them .

So this almost 5 year old girl followed me asking for money while we were walking on the street back to where we parked our car . She was behind me and the voice of a little girl pleading "I am hungry , Please give me money" stopped me . I turned to see the little girl who was not tidy enough and had dirt sticking on her face . She was wearing only a shorts. I turned around to see her smiling at me . The smile was so adorable that I stood there smiling back . I could see the excitement on her face as I smiled back .

The smile touched my heart .Even after 7 years that smile I saw on her face is so clear and fresh in my memory . She again said " I am hungry . Please give me some  money " . I smiled and said "I won't give you money but if you are hungry I will buy you food."She was not even wearing a dress to cover her completely. But she had a pleasant face throughout our meeting what most of us miss despite of having everything in life. As soon as I started talking to her I saw a young lady walking towards us and she started standing with her and said please give us some money . Then came a girl who would be around 12 years , then another boy who would be around 10 years . She smiled at me and said that is my mother , brother and sister .

By then I could hear my husband calling me from behind . He did not realize I was not with him unless he reached the car and walked all the way back to find me in a crowd which he was not that happy with . It was not because they belong to the street . The reason was that he was told by many that these people on the streets are not really safe to deal with . He was worried about my safety . A few bad experiences make people doubt on everyone who asks for help . 

He asked me to leave and said we are late . It was close to 10.30 pm . All the shops were closing. I said "Please,  5 minutes . Let me buy food for her ." She immediately interrupted saying "No, not just for me. Can you please buy for them too if you are buying. " She said pointing her finger to her mom and siblings. I smiled at her and said " Sure ! I will. "

I went to the next renowned vegetarian restaurant , place an order for them and asked them to keep it ready as a take away .I paid for it and took the token and  stepped out when they informed me it will take 10 minutes . I handed over the token to the lady and asked her to buy it after 10 minutes .She denied to take the token saying they will not let her enter the restaurant and they will be shooed away if they try to step in . I was a bit shaken hearing it but then I knew there was nothing to be surprised about . So I decided to wait in my car as I had someone waiting in the car with a worried look .

I walked to the car and sat down when this girl again followed me and stood next to me . I sat in the front passenger seat with my car door open so that I could speak to her . I had fallen in love with her adorable face and innocent smile . I started asking her " Don't you want to go to school ? "  She smiled and said "Yes , I want to . But I can't . Amma doesn't have money . My brother and sister also doesn't go to School."

I kept quiet and soon I started imagining how she would look after a good bath in clean clothes and a school bag . I was sure she would look as adorable as any kid of her age . Waking up from my sweet imagination when I looked at her she was making faces looking at a doll which was hung on our car mirror .

I asked her whether she wants it . She smiled and said "No" . Her reply took me to a surprise . I knew she liked it . So any girl of her age wouldn't say no when someone offers her a toy she likes . But after a small pause very reluctantly she asked "Could you buy me a dress if you don't mind. It's too cold in the night and mosquitoes doesn't let me sleep ." That request brought tears .She already knew the difference between need and necessity.

I stepped out and looked around . All the shops were closed . It was too late in the night . I couldn't find a  shop to buy a dress at that moment . 

We have been waiting close to 15 minutes so I stepped out, took the parcel from the restaurant counter and handed it over to the girl first . It was too big for her to carry but she thanked me with a smile from the heart . I still looked around but I couldn't find any open shops . I promised her I will buy one dress for her the next time I would meet her . I was not happy with that decision of mine but I had no choice . She was all I thought about for days . 

We went back to the same street many times after that . I met a lot of other little girls but could never meet her ever again . I still feel bad for not able to fulfill my promise . Now I might never even recognize her next time I see her . But that smile of her still touch me beyond years. I wish I could some day come out of this guilt of not fulfilling that promise.

 


Comments

pradeep
05/10/2015 10:30pm

Nice reading...well done.
Some where down memory lane I hope u might write about this character whom u have met as well

Reply
06/10/2015 12:44am

Thanks Pradeep . Keep checking this space . You might find me writing about everyone I have met in my life at some point of time .

Reply
03/06/2016 2:44pm

Maybe she wasn't there anymore because she's in a better place now. You've done a great job of helping her and her family. I'm sure it meant a lot to her and I am very certain that she haven't forgotten about you, too up to date. No matter where this story goes, I hope there would be more and more people like you. Reading this made me look back at myself. When was the last time I extended my arm to help somebody? Helping a person may not necessarily change the world, but it will change the world for that person.

shvetha
06/10/2015 9:24am

Hey! Very well written. This is something every Indian can relate with. Also, your narration is simple & effective. It reminds me of the famous author Sudha Murthy. Nicely done.

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Kalhara Venugopal
06/10/2015 9:59am

Thanks Shvetha! You made my day . I could not have asked for more

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Reshmi
06/10/2015 2:02pm

Well said and hats off to your big heart to recognise that innocent smile.

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Kalhara Venugopal
06/10/2015 3:53pm

Thank you Reshmi :) I have read somewhere that "A person with big heart should be there to receive, for you to enjoy the happiness of giving . "

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Varun
11/10/2015 1:06am

Wow

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Kalhara Venugopal
11/10/2015 1:46am

Thank you Varun !

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saiman
12/10/2015 1:22pm

So touching..:( keep posting..will wait for the next..:)

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Kalhara Venugopal
12/10/2015 1:52pm

Thanks Saiman .

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Lakshmy Ramesan
12/10/2015 7:34pm

The line that touched: 'She already knew the difference between Need and Necessity.

Good work chechi.. Hereby am one of ur follower. Move On..

Reply
Kalhara Venugopal
12/10/2015 8:30pm

Thank you Lakshmy :) I hope I meet all expectations .

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Sunny
15/10/2015 10:45pm

Very nice stories on the reality of life..we live very oblivious of these realities such as pain and sufferings..

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Kalhara Venugopal
18/10/2015 4:20pm

Thank you .True ..

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MRK
18/10/2015 6:53am

Great

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Kalhara Venugopal
18/10/2015 4:17pm

Thank you

Reply
13/02/2016 9:50am

I was more than happy to discover this web site. I need to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every part of it and I have you saved to fav to look at new things in your site.

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Kalhara Venugopal
15/02/2016 11:26pm

I am happy you enjoyed reading it. Thank you . I hope to fulfill ur expectations in the future too . U can also join my page in Facebook which will give you updates on new things on this website . The page name is A woman's journal. Hope to read more of ur comments in here .

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Pooja
18/02/2016 5:12pm

I can relate !!!

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Kalhara Venugopal
18/02/2016 5:18pm

I am happy you could . I want to write what everyone can relate to

Reply

Thanks for your kind words!

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Kalhara Venugopal
25/02/2016 11:49am

Thank you for reading

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Garry Wallcott
07/03/2016 10:20pm

Loved reading your articles on heart touching real life issues...

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Kalhara Venugopal
07/03/2016 10:43pm

I am happy you loved reading it . I would be looking forward to read more of your comments here

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