Aamin Mondal (as i later knew his name was) : Didi, didi, money money, please, money...
Me : What? money? why?
AM: I kept your shoe safe, see here it is.
Apparently, he had saved me from lurking thieves who would like nothing better than to steal my shoe. For all of you who have seen the pair, it would be a good thing for me to have it stolen so I would finally get a new one. But that was not to be, as Aamin had kept it tucked safely between his legs. His intention however, was far from innocent. He used his cute facednes as a ploy to usurp money from others who visited the temple. I was another such victim.
Months of living in a country where such hardship lathered cuteness is hard to find, have however, taught me to look behind the obvious. I looked at his oversized blue jacket, probably the only one to survive the Kolkata cold, in the pavements below the bridge. Alone. With his group of friends. All now bickering for the ten Rupees note in AM's hands.
Me: Oye, you are all supposed to share this..
AM: ohhh...if you are so concerned, why dont you give me more eh?
Me: yeah right, then tomorrow I will have to ask you for money.
AM: Say what? give me that song thing you have ( referring to the pink mp3 in my hand, so guys like pink...hmmmm)
Me: you wont even know half the songs in here..
AM: O madam, even I know englis.
Me: Acchha?? you go to school?
AM: you dont believe me? come come, ill show my school to you...
Me: all of you go there?
AM's friend (female, very sweet, will grow up to be a killer): arre dont listen to him, he will take your money and eat gutkha...
Me: you dont like gutkha? or do you?
AM's friend : we all love it. even he. (pointing at the smallest kid in the group, who now smiles guiltily)
Me : but thats not good is it?
AM: Didi, nothing in our life is. You just give me another ten bucks and go. Go home.
Me : ........
There are very few instances in life where I dont talk back. There are even fewer people who can render me speechless. For this reason alone, if not for anything else, that I will always remember AM. Probably go back to the temple again, to talk to AM again, to partake in their stained lives, to feel oh i am so cool, i can talk to roadside kids without any hesitation, to feel the small glitch in my heart when the helplessness hits me and I realise how lucky I am to have a home.
As of now, I can do nothing. Except for write a blog.