Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Elfish Tale

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.


Me Thinks.. said...

Honestly apeaking, its short and sweet. Makes a lot of sense. Good observation..

moi said...

things in life that come to us the hard way bring greater joy along. well written.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid though that, perhaps, your little elf won't be able to dodge the bullets life fires at him for very long. What'd happen when he grows into an unwanted adoloscent -- to whom the passing by cars won't toss those coins. What'd happen when he gets addicted to the cheap drugs that probably make him forget his hunger for a few hours? What'd happen when he is arrested for stealing? Or for loitering suspiciously?

No, we're indeed better equipped than him. He won't probably make it as far as you did.

gaana said...

It's a great observation man :)

moontalk said...

@me thinks n gaana
does anything worthwhile come the easy way?unless, u re born to a millionaire or an international jewel thief??!
true.little girl elves grow up to carry their own li'l kids in the street n then beg for them.wonder what happens to others.
never doubted that we re better off, n better equipped than them, its jus that what they learn on their own, we spend years n plenty of money, n still dont.

pRicky said...

jus goes on to say how well you can write when u get articulate.
fantastic observation.
i loved the pull a faster one on life. astounding stuff

moontalk said...

u seriously mean that???:) thanks

Vodka said...

good observation. one question, just academic curiosity. do you ever give them money? not the ear bud sellers. beggar urchins. every given them a coin?

Johnny said...

I have to learn from you. we are trained to observe people to identify subtle changes which correlates with a medical condition. But, many a times we fail to do so.
It was an interseting read.

moontalk said...

@ vodka
no i dont.i'll buy something from them.but those who beg, i dont giv anything.i think that by doing that we encourage begging.well, by buying stuff, we encourage street selling, its a matter of choosing the lesser evil i guess.or respecting one that guy's spirit.
do u?
@ johny
doc, that cant be dangerous mate :D
we journalists can get away with a small coulmn titled "correction" but well u guys could get into bid trouble if u guys miss subtle changes.gud luck with that!

Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY!
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sangeeta said...

In 1995, when am in bangalore, i made company with these type of street kids - i love them too much - everyday they will come to my work place - me also felt same as them - am also struggling life under the sky - i still feel missing their SMILE wich no one can produce - i am still loving them.