Jasmine held onto the driving rickshaw tightly, as the cold breeze on the road hit her face and made her ears cold. She was playing with her breath, emanating clouds from her mouth that would disperse and disappear into the air.
As she got down at the vegetable market along with her mother, she noticed some women chattering with a vendor, bargaining for the prices. She saw an aged man with his distinctive jute bag examining the capsicums as he loaded them all into the worn out plastic basket. A little kid in torn mini jeans passed her walking so confidently, with a plastic bag of fruits in his one hand and currency notes clutched tightly into the wrist of the other.
She struggled to pass through people in the heavily crowded passage. Her vision was restricted to see only the lower halves of people walking by her. She hated coming to the market with her mother.
They stopped at their regular vegetable vendor. Her mother began examining tomatoes and putting them into a yellow basket lying on the top of vegetables itself. There was nothing in this particular market that fancied her. Nothing she could pick and pester her mother to purchase for her. It was just heaps of dusty potatoes piled on one another with odd looking stuff growing out it, red tomatoes of different sizes, ginger, brinjal, cucumbers, capsicums, onions, chillies, lettuce and what not. It was like revising names of all the vegetables she had seen in her school books. It was not just any boring place; it was a boring place selling boring vegetables that reminded her of school.
The girl saw the shopkeeper looking at her. She grabbed her mother’s shawl and hid behind her, still staring at the man as he was coughing. He was a middle aged person, wearing a dusky sweater and a muffler wrapped around his head. He had a thin voice and was answering rudely as people asked him about the prices of the vegetables he had on sale.
She wondered how all these fruits and vegetables landed up in these stalls here. Who got them there? How much would the old man sitting in the middle of all of this, his entire day, might be earning? She thought why he would be so skinny and unhealthy if he had so many vegetables with him. He could cook some and eat them.
The world on the television she saw was happy and perfect. Coming to the market was a sad occasion for her. She saw people, who either looked unhappy or old. She thought about the man who drove her to the market in the rickshaw. It pained her heart seeing the old man putting so much effort on the pedal, to drive the weight of the vehicle forward. And when he asked for 30 rupees, her mother gave him a long lecture along with the unwillingly handed over extra 10 rupees.
She just wanted to run away from there. But she was little and needed her mother. The thing she wanted the most in the world was to grow up. She didn’t like to rely on her mother for seeing everything there was to see around her.
She wanted a cell phone, a driving license, a credit card and a wallet filled with money. She wanted to be a grown up and do the things she desired. Not waste time like her mother buying boring vegetables but give money to poor people and those old men working on streets, who should be at their homes being loved by their children and grandchildren.
She realised she was standing over water, that had gotten into her floaters. She immediately stepped back, and titled her footwear to let the dirty water drop down. It was already so cold, now her feet were drenched in dirty water. Her mother turned and asked her if she would like cauliflower or lettuce for lunch. She ran her eyes over the vegetables spread in front of her, like examining a restaurant menu and asked her to buy brinjals instead and make bharta.
People around fascinated her, walking and heading somewhere; all of them up to something. She also wanted to have a purpose and walk like them. They were capable of doing things that she thought she wasn’t. Hardly she knew back then, she was capable of thinking things they weren’t.