Part 2: Pinky questions

The initial draft of this article was written way back in July 2009. I have edited it a couple of times after that initial draft and never really took the time to finish it and publish it after those re-edits. A re-read of the unfinished article today gave me a fresh look into it and I have decided to publish it right then. Please leave your comments and thoughts using the comments section.

First part of Pinky questions can be found here.

***

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. They were in a car and struck in a traffic jam, only few meters away from the left turn they had to take. Pinky, her mother, her father, and their pet dog. Pinky was playing with the dog in the backseat while Nidhi and Arun were busy talking some finance-stuff that a nine year old kid like Pinky could not understand. They were on their way to a birthday party they had to attend in the evening and before that to do some shopping as well. They were struck in the jam from past ten minutes. Nidhi and Arun were growing more and more impatient with every passing second.

Pinky, oblivious of the jam and delay, was playing with the dog and was lost in her own world. Suddenly, a boy appeared out of nowhere and started cleaning the car’s front windscreen. A regular scene in the Indian cities if you drive a car. Pinky’s parents seemed not to notice the boy and continued their conversation. They have seen the scene several times before and the routine had failed to evoke any emotion in them after the first few times.

Pinky saw this happen few times before but never thought about it. She was lost in her own thoughts. Busy looking through windows and counting the two-wheelers or waving her hand at the strangers sometimes.

But this time, Pinky stopped playing with the dog, balancing herself on her toes she leaned forward in between the front seats to see who that boy was. He looked to be of her age with a shirt that exposed most of his bare and oil-stained shoulders and a little bit of his chest. His shirt reminded her of the cloth with which her father cleans the car. The boy was cleaning the windscreen with a yellow colored cloth by sprinkling water from the bottle he carried in his other hand. She noticed that he looked at the dog a couple of  times while he cleaned the glass.

He finished the cleaning and tapped on the window next to the driver’s seat. Arun did not seem to notice the boy in the least. The boy tapped again. Pinky nudged her father and waved her hand in the direction where the boy stood looking through the window. Arun gave a smile to Pinky and returned to the conversation. During this, Nidhi was punching on her mobile and sent a message to her friend that they were struck in a traffic jam from fifteen minutes.

The boy disappeared after few seconds knowing very well that his effort will not earn him a dime this time. Pinky watched the boy as he crossed the road and as he started cleaning a car window on the other side of the road.

Pinky knew that the boy asked money from her father as she noticed few times when her father gave a coin before. But she could not understand why her father did not give money this time.

“Papa, who was that boy? Why did he clean our car window?”

Arun was too busy cursing the traffic jam and never bothered to answer her question though he listened to it.  Nidhi was replying to a message she got from her friend.

Pinky leaned over and repeated the question to get the attention from her parents.

‘He cleans the windows and asks money from people,” Nidhi told while looking into her mobile.

‘Why?’ Pinky asked.

‘Because he wants money,’  Arun answered.

‘Why he wants money? His parents don’t give him money?’

‘They are poor and some of the boys have no parents,’ Arun replied.

‘Why are they poor papa?’ asked Pinky. Children are capable of asking you question after question until they find a satisfying answer. They keep on asking  you so many whys and hows.

‘Be…cause…’ Arun stumbled as he did not know how to answer that question. He never thought about it. Kids often ask few questions which we cannot answer and probably never wanted an answer for ourselves.

‘Be…cause…’ Pinky almost mimicked her father to get an answer.

‘They do not have enough money. So they are poor.’ Nidhi joined the conversation after she put her mobile into handbag.

‘Why they do not have enough money?’ Pinky asked. One more why!

Arun and Nidhi looked at each other and they knew they cannot answer or rather give answers which Pinky could understand.

By this time, vehicles on the road started to move slowly and Arun started the car and joined the rush.

Pinky stopped asking anymore questions and started wondering in her mind why that boy cleaned their window. She realized that her parents were not interested to talk about it.

They took the left turn and unfortunately after few minutes, they were struck in another traffic jam. Arun and Nidhi cursed the roads of India, government of India, people of India, and whatever they thought was responsible for these jams except the irresponsible driving by people.

One more boy jumped near their car and started cleaning. Arun and Nidhi, as usual did not notice the boy or rather acted not to notice. But, they were a little bit worried that Pinky would start peppering questions again.

But Pinky, jumped to the other end of the backseat behind the driver’s seat, pulled down the window and waved with her hand and called the boy to come. The boy stopped cleaning in the middle and and came near Pinky who held her head out of the window balancing herself on her knees on the backseat with her legs stretched flat on the seat.

After wiping the sweat off from his face and rubbing his hands on his trousers, he stretched his right hand expecting money from Pinky.

But Pinky wanted to talk to him. Nidhi and Arun did not want to interfere, fearing that would make Pinky angry and they never wanted their daughter to be angry while they are attending a birthday party.

‘What’s your name?” Pinky asked.

The boy smiled and did not answer. His right hand still stretched out in the expectation of a coin.

Pinky gave a five-rupee coin to him and told him that a boy had already cleaned the window few minutes ago and he need not clean it now. The boy pocketed the coin with a real-thank-you-smile and washed off few droplets of water which were left on the glass when he left the cleaning in the middle.

‘What’s your name?’ Pinky shouted.

The boy turned back, smiled, and then left.

During all this, Tommy, their pet dog, comfortably slept as the car had AC.

After a couple of minutes the vehicles started to move slowly and Arun started his car wishing to see no more traffic jams and no more window-cleaning while he asked Pinky to close the window.

***

I am sure most of us must have seen kids cleaning car windows at traffic signals in Indian cities. I am not sure whether to give a coin to them or not. I am sure giving a ten rupee note wouldn’t really bother many of us. But isn’t that encouraging a bad thing? If I give them money, is it right or wrong? Right in a way and wrong in another way. But I feel very embarrassed when those boys tap on the window and stretch their hands. Is it their mistake for what they are now? Whom to blame?

I am sure, this post leaves with more questions than answers. My intention was not to portray a cynic’s view of India. There are enough books already which project India from a cynic’s eye.

I hope you liked reading this post and would be great to hear your thoughts.

Thank you very much for reading!

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5 Comments

  1. Posted June 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi,

    Nice posting ….

    Even it is confusing to me, whether to give money to those kids or not …. after thinking so much, i got an idea ….. the same thing which my mom does …. don give them money, instead buy them some food ;) ……

    Though, it is not necessary to write …. let me put some words here … once, a guy ran away from his home, in kurnool (becuase he had a fight with his parents) …. he reached Mahabub nagar, thinking that he can get a job ….. he was in mahabub nagar for a week, searching for a job ….. one day, he stood infront of our gate and asking for food to eat & money to go back to his home town …… my mom could have given him enough money to go back to his hometown … but, what she did was …. to make him realize what he did to his parents…. she asked him to clean the grass infront of the gate …. and then she gave him food and money … and she warned him, to go back to his parents, … else if i see you around here, i will handover to police ….

    I love you mom :) …..

    Regards,
    Varma

    • deepak
      Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Your mom is good.

  2. Naresh Reddy
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    Hi,

    I feel, we can give money to the kids who do the cleaning of glass or to the matter anyone as they are doing something and are asking for money in return, which is far more better than begging.

    I see many young people begging in Hyd. I will never give money to beggars. But if someone does something like this and asks for money, I will end up giving money, most of the times.

  3. Sowjanya
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Hi,

    I do concern about those children, but I suggest that don’t encourage such children by giving money to them, wantedly they never start begging, some one(elder) people send them. My opinion is “If each and every individual Stop giving money to those children, after some days no one sends the children to any work, for making money.” I think all readers can guess the consequences of this single step..

    If you want to help them, give any food Items to them.

    I had my personal experiance, when I was travelling to bangalore. I saw lots of happiness in a child, when I spoke to her and gave some food items. Till bus crossed the corner of the bus stand, she was seeing me, running behind the bus and saying bye to me with a heartful smile.

    I never forget the simle of a little child.

  4. Karteek
    Posted November 10, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Nicely written, empathic and gripping.

    I don’t want to say anything about the children but we with uncontrolled breeding are to blame.

    As usual wait something unusual happens to help all those children on the streets.

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