We do not have a home, we do not have relatives, but we have a family. We are each other’s family. We have many friends of our own kind. Their parents let them play with us but never invite us home, never let us enter their shacks and we are always left to fend for ourselves at night. They occasionally give us a roti and we happily share it between us. I’m always very hungry but I usually give a piece or two extra from my share to my brother; he is just a child.
We live off the streets. We beg.
My friend’s family is a balloon seller. Her dad said, “I’ll let you help me with work as soon as you’re old enough for it and if you’re good at it I’ll give you thirty rupees every day.”
I really want to be good at blowing balloons, making colourful toy animals by tying various shaped balloons to one another and even at selling them so that Uncle gives me forty rupees and not just thirty!
We are poor. No one takes care of us but us. We often go hungry and sleep on hard footpath with just a single blanket to protect us from the wind and cold, sun and rain. We are happy. Our joy lies in small things.
Our joy lies in tasting that first piece of roti in days. Our joy lies in counting that one coin that we earn extra than the previous day. We enjoy the smell of food that wafts out of restaurants. Lying beside each other, hand in hand hearing the cars zoom by, gives us a thrill. When we see a child as old as us, belonging to a rich family, begging its mother to buy a balloon, it sets us giggling. All that crying just for a balloon! Hahaha!
We are poor but at peace with ourselves. We are wanderers. We are free souls.
Picture courtesy: Shivangi Shah