“C’mon Trisha, come inside now. It’s late.”
“Just one more lesson, please Maa!”
I walked towards my garden with a cup of coffee. As usual, all her stuffed toys were lined up on the floor.
Placing her drooping dupatta, which she had sneaked from my wardrobe, on her shoulder, she looked up in the sky. Accompanied by her actions, she spoke , “Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are!”
“So we are learning poems in today’s class?” I couldn’t stop myself from interrupting my 6 years old teachings.
” Yes, and Cuddles has been very naughty today.” Pointing towards her pink stuffed bear, apparently one of her students, she gave a scowl.
I was diverted by indistinct hushing behind the bushes, it felt like someone was hiding. I walked towards it; a seemingly teenage boy, ran away like lightning, as soon as he saw me approaching. I tried to stop him but he vanished into thin air.
“Maa, are you listening? Cuddles didn’t learn his poems again.” Trisha drew my attention back to her. “No worries darling, he has a great teacher. He will surely learn one day.” I placed a kiss on her forehead.
Basking in the garden, the cozy weather and the wholesome scene of my daughter enjoying her day – this had become a regular pattern.
She loves this game – being a teacher to her toys- some days we are playing with numbers while the other days it’s about rhymes!
I caught him today.
He seemed nervous, yet innocent. He wore a grey shirt with torn sleeves, his hair was messed up. As I fixed my gaze on his face, it felt that a layer of dust had concealed it. I assumed he belonged from nearby slum. Maybe he is hungry. ” What’s your name? Do you want to eat something?” I asked politely. He nervously shook his head, managed to escape my grip and ran away again. I yelled “Wait!!” twice and followed him, but to no avail.
‘Who is he? What does he want with my child?’ Before my mind crafted hundreds of conclusions, I calmed myself down.
‘He is just a boy, nothing to worry about.’
Being a single mother with decent earning, I have my troubles already pouring out of the bucket. I don’t have the advantage of going to the salon every now and then, having lunch parties and leaving my child in daycare. I don’t have the privilege to plan vacations and buy stuff without having a look at tag price. Amidst all this, I don’t want any new inconvenience.
“Stop worrying about it, Isha! You are just overthinking this boy’s situation.” Neha consoled me as we sat in the garden. Neha, my neighbour, has always been there like a true friend.
“One , two , three, four….” Trisha was busy in her own little world teaching numbers today.
“As discussed, if he comes today, I shall follow him. You stay here with Trisha.” I told Neha. “I have a feeling he will come again.”
And I was right! There he was, staring at my daughter; his failed attempt at hiding behind the bush was evident by his visible right hand.
I pretended not to have noticed him or he may run away again. As he was leaving, I started following him. On the way, my heart beating faster and my hands getting sweatier.
Read Say NO to Stress
‘Maybe Neha is right! I am overthinking this situation’
‘What does he want with my child?’
After a two lane walk, following him, I reached the slum. The dust here reminded me of his face.
What I saw next was saddening and surprising at the same time, something that made me question my understanding of ‘being privileged’.
He had gathered all the kids of his slum, made them sit similarly as Trisha’s toys, and started teaching them “One, two, three four…. .” The kids repeating and imitating him in their best way possible. Something so similar to what my child does, and still so different – this difference spoke volumes!
Every child here reflecting the uncountable flaws in our society. Something as basic as education seemed like a distant entitlement.
‘I don’t have the advantage of going to salon every now and then, having lunch parties and leaving my child in day care. I don’t have the privilege to plan vacations and buy stuff without having a look at tag price.’ my own words together had formed a strong weapon and kept attacking me.
‘Look around and tell, at this very moment, who is the most ‘Privileged’ here?’
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I am CA Sakshi Kesharwani who loves to be creative with words. I have written poems, stories and musings. Love to express my imagination through pen and paper.