Tuesday, December 7, 2010
As the night was setting its mood I could see a cluster of lights of all the hues shining on the ranges , though the fog over the hills was making these lights blur. In the narrow streets I could smell the aroma of freshly cooked rice , rum and meat from the houses and restaurants which were flanking these narrow streets. I was hungry , tired and myself . The oriental music on the streets or the prayer gongs were no more soothing the mood as I was desperately looking for a home for night.
After walking for around 10 minutes I saw a shop “Asia's Best Chai”. As I entered I saw a table waiting for me the only table in the shop . The walls were made up of dried bamboos and the half rusted tin roof rested on bamboo pillars dug in the uneven cement flooring .Amidst the loud noise of stove I heard a voice “ its cold today , see on the mountains , the snow fall (1) ”. He was a Boy almost half my age almost 5 feet tall, fair complexion , dressed up like any boy of his age in the metros . A nike sweat shirt with a hood , tight fitted very low waist jeans and all star fleets, lean for amount of clothing he had . Sparsely placed hair on his face showing early signs of puberty.His lower jaw was positioned slightly above the average position which made his lower lip slightly more visible than his upper lip and this was slightly affecting accent of his recently acquired english skills.
Pumping the stove more vigorously he smiled at me and said “Sir ….Special Chai ?” . I nodded my head in affirmative. All the while when he was preparing the “Asia's Best Chai” , he kept telling a lot of stories. How immigrants have encroached the area ? How business is affected due to Bandhs for free tibet call ? To how he had with a German lady while supplying her Baba”cannabis” in a rave party last year ? By the time he was telling me the story of how a local hotel was raided during last new year celebration my tea was ready , interrupting the story in between he asked candidly “ anything to eat sir”and yes I was hungry .
Looking at my backpack he curiously asked “are you looking for a place to stay “ . I stopped munching on the sweet rusks , taking a sip of the tea I again nodded my head in affirmative. He smiled at me and said “ why are you angry isn't the tea good? Or are you not liking the stories?” I thought like a cynic “Am I entitled to be judged by a small boy who hardly crossed his teens or I have lost the joy of conversation , living in the cities of silence ?” . Somehow a genuine smiled cracked at the corners of my lips “ whats ur name ?” . “Shivam” .”well Shivam , tea was good as good as your stories” . He smiled at those words and was about to tell me another story . The cynic in me questioned " is that smile and the stories are expected to result in loosening my wallet for a tip”.Its surprising How a man asks for hapiness and smiles around him in his prayers and when there are smiles he doubts them.
By the time I finished my tea and he finished the stories the shops on the street were closed .He counted the change he had earned in the day and placed few coins in piggybank while keeping a part of his sales with him . He took a pack of rusks while closing down the shop.
It was ten PM at night . As we exhaled it was visible on the street .There were Dogs barking on the streets ferocious ones fighting for the littered food on street. He threw the pack of rusks for them and all of those ferocious creatures started running towards us. “ hold on they never bite anyone” the boy said looking at me . I freezed at my place till the dogs savoured the rusks and then moved on .
A futile thought crossed my mind “ is it okay following the directions of a stranger boy ? May be he ties me up with his accomplices on a pine tree and will run away with my belongings ?”. With a rucksack carrying clothing for next two days , a shaving kit , a few rupees , less than what the boy earned in a day and a good book to read I didn't had much to loose , made me smile . There are only a few moments in life when you are happy having a smaller baggage, this was one of them. When you have a smaller baggage you climb quickly and trust easily.
"Its just around the corner and don't tell at home that I smoked “ he told me while puffing a ciggarette hastily ….....
….. TO BE CONTINUED
copyright(2005) virender vyas