Virtue


Life in Mumbai is not easy they say. She never agreed to them. Here is why she feels the opposite.

               Walking through the city streets every day from morning to night, she was accustomed to be thrown out of places, spit on by strangers and heard abuses when she went close to them. It did not matter to her how ill-mannered people were. She considered it a part of the life she was living. Her life purpose was to reach out her hand and earn. To her, hard work meant putting up with the forces of the human race that pushed her down and stand strong without letting her determination to live, die within her. She did not have to worry about shelter, as the almighty would look after that necessity of hers. She wanted to feed and protect herself and the little one she dragged with her everywhere she went.

She found happiness in watching the stars at night, feeling the heat of the sun on her palms, watching people smile and munching fresh food. Her hunger to live nurtured her to be unspoilt and humble. She only took what she needed and gave all that she had in serving the ones who looked up to her. When she watched young girls pass by with books and school bags, she would sit on the road and use a small piece of white cement block to write letters and read them loud. She loved the attention she got from different people who appreciated her with some food and goodies. She would impress them with her dance moves and her sweet voice. Her sister banged an old steel plate with hands to make music. Very few paid attention to her happiness. Not many knew what this young child goes through every day.

She is considered a dirt, that filths the nation. Yet she loved her country and her people. She would sell tiny flags on Independence Day and pin one onto her half-torn clothes. She would peep through the holes of a school compound and watch the flag hoisting. She knew the anthem and proudly sang it with pride. Her own people never accepted her yet she loved them so much.

Why did it not bother her that nobody cared when she fell ill and threw her to the dogs when she came for water? What is that about the city that still kept her to her feet?

               It has only been 6 years since she has been in this world and yet she has a wisdom that even a learned cannot have. It is simple she says. If every time in life you are only going to see the dark, you will always remain in the dark. When a candle is lit in a dark room, no matter how small the flame is, it brightens every corner of the room. That is why she does not cry over all the times people have trampled over her. She instead remembers all those who came to her rescue during her desperation.

As she walked pass a few cars, begging for coins, one shiny car opened their door and gave her a plastic bag filled with some new clothes. It was Diwali, a time for new clothes to flaunt. She grabbed the bag and ran across the road and took out each item one after the other and examined them. She was choosy and found one that she liked the most. She kept back rest of the clothes, handed the bag to one of the elders and said, “Tai ye hum kal subah meri baaki saheliyon ko baatengey. Kripyiya isse surakshit jagah pey rakhna.” (Translation: “Sister, please keep this bag safe with you. Tomorrow morning we shall distribute these clothes to my friends.”)

If only we can learn something from her. She might look poverty-stricken. Yet her heart is richer than ours is.

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