It’s funny how the world works. Sometimes, all it takes is a very everyday event to make you realize that all this while; you had just been looking, without really seeing.
Little waifs selling nick-knacks at traffic intersections is a very everyday sight, at lest in this mighty country of contradictions. In fact we’ve become so used to them, that they kind of have become like house elves in a Harry Potter book- always scuttling about, but never really visible.
I was at the intersection near the Forum in Koramangala that day. While waiting for the traffic from the other end to stop, I noticed this little punk across the road. He looked like spirited imp, in his rather over-sized clothes, well worn, of that murky urchin colour, that is not quite grey, not entirely brown. Now, this one was prancing happily in this side, with his sack of sellables, till he reached a waiting car. Then suddenly his happy expression changed. It became desperate, desolate picture of the poor hungry urchin on the road. The homeless, hapless orphan, forced to the streets, in an age when he should have been in school. Transformation was complete and he played his part well.
As the light turned green again, he hopped back to his elfish oblivion again, clutching the loose change in his hand, waiting for the next traffic light, next transformation.
As I watched this li’l drama I realized that what I felt for this kid was not sympathy. It was a strange kind of respect. This child, all of perhaps six, had already learnt to live, he had learnt that important lesson in life that most of us don’t, at least not until it’s too late. That this world allows the survival, only of the fittest.
He had figured that he lives in a world that not only is unfair, but is also never unfair in his favour. Had accepted that to live, he had to put on an act. So life pulled a past one on him, he just had to pull a faster one on life.
It’s funny how the world works. Most of us- the so called “privileged kids”- are expected to be good at dealing with challenges of life. That’s what we are trained for by parents, drilled at school by teachers. We are told what to expect in the “real world”, and for nearly 15-20 years, trained to face it. But still, when the fabled reality finally strikes, most of us are knocked silly.
No one warned these kids. No one trained them to face the “real world”. They were born into it. It’s the only one they know. Yet they deal with it, everyday, day after day.
These li’l elves are survivors. Brave brand of fighters whom no one applauds, no one thinks of giving award to. And they do it without whining. Because they know no alternative. They live their lives, from one stop at the intersection to another.