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The litttle girl from Itarsi

August 24, 2009

Last April we were travelling back home from a trip to Pachmadhi, a hill(ock) station in the Satpuras.
We took a Bhopal bound train from Piparia at around 2 pM. It was a scorching late April afternoon.
By the time we reached Itarsi, we were very thirsty. I got down and bought a few sachets of buttermilk from a local vendor. They are cheap, cool and refreshing. However, our children would have none of that. So again I went down and got some fruit pulp drink for them, Maaza or something, I donot remember the brand exactly. Coming back to my seat I found a little beggar girl standing there,
her right hand spread in front of my wife. Now that she knew that our kids won’t take the butter milk anymore, she placed one sachet in that grimy palm. The girl took it, smiled at her and went away.

Within five minutes she was back again. Again she stood there , exactly in the same manner, her right hand spread in front of my wife. This time she gave her two more of the sachets. She smiled brightly and left. After sometime when the train was almost ready to depart, suddenly the same grimy palm peeped through the window and a frail voice pleaded from below outside–Aur ek de do naa auntiji!
My wife placed the single leftover sachet in that hand. It disappeared immediately. We then started discussing this moral degradtion of this child. In the first place she was hardly half a dozen years old, but was already a practised beggar. In addition, see how greedy she was! She would never be satisfied with a little, but would always like to grab everything. All four sachets she took for herself! Such greed! What a selfish and greedy woman would she become once she grew up! Some co-passangers joined in and a wonderful and knowledgeable discussion on moral degradatio of Indian beggers began.

While a middle aged gentleman was suggesting a state sponsored forced ligation program for all destitute women above fifteen so as to save the face of the nation from the scourge of such unwanted little urchins, suddenly there was the long whistle and the train started to roll.
When we were approaching the end of the platform, suddenly my elder kid pointed outside and said, “Papa look, that greedy begger girl!”
We all looked outside. There she was; standing guard over a very ill looking middle aged woman, perhaps her mother. The woman was greedily sucking at one of those packets of butter milk Three other naked toddlers were scampering around. Each of them had one sachet in his or her hand.
Only, our greedy beggar girl was an exception. We had given her only four packets. She did not have any sachet left for herself. There she stood, a six year old kid, with a stamp of extreme desire visible all over her perched body, looking at the gradually emptying packets of liquid in the hands of her younger siblings and her ill mother.

The train slipped out of the platform. There was a odd hush inside our compartment.

My narration being over, I shall end my post here, without any expert sounding comment from my side. I have no right to pass a judgement on a human being with so much superior strength of character than me, or , than any other person I have met till date. Little girl, who taught you conquer your greed in such a way? Could you teach us the trick?

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