And therein it lay

His eyes were hollows of darkness sunk into black holes. Dirt was smeared on his forehead, on his hands, on every exposed portion of his body. His hair was ruffled as if it hadn’t been combed in many days. His body had a strange odour to it. He was looking hungrily at a sweetshop.

The sweetshop was at the converging (or diverging) point of seven roads. It was located beside the movie hall. Directly opposite to it was a college. It was a place where traffic was very heavy and the traffic management had given many policemen nightmares. The location was very profitable to the sweetshop, which like all other sweetshops sold many eatables like pav bhaji, radhabollovi, hing kachori, et cetera, but had a name which gave a wrong impression that it was only a sweetshop. (But then it was pretty logical because unless you’re like me you won’t have just have sweets). It was a shop which was running very well. The interior was decorated lavishly.

He was staring at the shop hungrily. He hadn’t eaten anything in three days. He was standing in front of the shop with hungry eyes. Suddenly a rough voice admonished him, “Hey fellow. What do you want? And more importantly, do you have the money to pay for it?” The boy wiped the saliva off the corner of his lips and nodded his head sadly. The rough voice said again, “I didn’t think so. Then get out of the way of my paying customers. I don’t have time and food for every homeless, dirty beggar who comes to my shop. Get out now before I come out with the broom.”

The boy moved a little away. All the paying customers wrinkled their noses when he went past. A girl pointed at him told something to her friend and both of them burst into contemptuous laughter. The boy was unaffected by all this. He was used to being treated like this by the rest of the people who were fortunate enough not to be as unfortunate as him.

A person came out of the sweetshop with a pack of hot jalebis in his hand. As he passed the boy, he wrinkled his nose and tried to get away fast from him. A jalebi fell down from the pack in his hand. Swifter than a leopard he bent and picked it up from the ground and ran away.

The man said, “Look at that beggar. They will stop at nothing. Shameless creatures.”

The boy ran inside an alley. He had picked up and old newspaper from somewhere and wrapped the jalebi with it. He went right and left and kept on going, it seemed, inside a labyrinth. After running for two and a half minutes he reached a dark shack. He opened the door and went inside.

A little boy was sleeping inside on a dirty mat. He woke the boy up.

“Bhai. See what I got for you. A jalebi. Eat it.”

His brother’s face lit up with a smile brighter than a 200 watt bulb.

“You won’t eat any dada?”

“No. I have eaten a lot. You eat it.”

That shack lacked money but it had love.

Love and happiness.

It’s funny how often the two coincide.

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