She loved colours. Every bit of her appearance was shimmering like a rainbow sitting on the perch of the road, as she sold toys on that bright sunny afternoon in the city of Pune. Despite the atrocious heat, she wore her block printed black dupatta graciously over her head and kept smiling at the strangers passing by. It was time of the year when the number of her prospective customers on street went as high as it could be. The market looked as bright as her, flushed with decor all around, celebrating the arrival of Ganesh in its hometown.
In an attempt to divert attention to her conveniently ignored tiny little toys, she arranged them on a clean poster that she got from an old newspaper shop that morning, spread over a dusty sack. Placed one after another in rows- the dancing belles, tow trucks, yellow ducklings and Ganpatis of various designs, she made the best of what she could do to make her earnings prosper.
He saw the duckling; yellow, with a red nose and a blue strap around the neck, down there by the pavement. He was reminded of a similar character he came across in the television every afternoon. As his mother kept walking straight holding his left hand, ignoring everything that could lure his innocent and playful eyes, he got himself free from her and picked up the duckling off the Krishna poster it was kept on. She turned to him and asked him to keep it back that very instant. He refused and in a kind of tone that demanded a certain compensation for bringing him to the market despite him not wanting to, he asked her to buy him the duckling. As she pulled his hand, he shifted all his weight to the other side, hanging on her hand, crying and whining for the duckling, which in that instant meant the world to him. Feeling awkward with all the eyes around on her, she asked the girl on the pavement for the price of the toy.
A slight amusement in his day felt like a relief to him, watching the whining kid victorious in his battle. He leaned further from his balcony as he noticed the happy kid disappearing into the crowd, with the yellow toy in his hand.
It is not enough to just celebrate a festival in India. It should be sufficiently loud to an extent that the entire city sounds like it and you can feel its arrival in the air. Amidst the tumult of the people on roads, he couldn’t write his story. The celebration of Ganesh Chathurthi was at its peak.
Finally giving up on the struggle, he grabbed a chair of his dining table and came out in the air, glancing at people as they rushed through one another for their destinations. Their attire, belongings and odd expressions made it interesting for him to contemplate where they came from and where they were headed to. For him they weren’t mere humans, but hundreds of walking stories that left their houses in the morning to complete themselves, and begin all over again the next day.
The sunny afternoon changed its shade and out of nowhere the clouds began pouring. The unpredictable weather was a characteristic trait of the city. He picked his clothes from the hung wire and piled them on his chair immediately. He noticed the running vendors on the pavement of the street, grabbing their things and stuffing them into blue plastic bags. Within seconds, the entire illegal street business vanished off the streets and dispersed into places. The chattering noises were overtaken by the melody of the raindrops, and the gleaming market suddenly felt peaceful as the concerns of the crowd on road became similar. But within the hurrying atmosphere of humans across the road, he saw a young girl sitting on the top of the stairs of a mobile store. She wasn’t moving but rather observing people, as they looked for shelter, just like him. For that moment he felt a strange connection to her.
She closed her sketch book and kept all the coloured pens into the side pocket of her orange sling bag. She was satisfied with the sketches she had made in the market. At the same time she was annoyed as the rains were back and the sun gone, once again.
She always loathed Delhi for the heat. And now Pune’s rains were getting over her nerves. Sitting on the stairs, she began wondering whether any city existed with a climate that she could be cheerful about. Now that her subject of attention had vanished and the time for her assignment was almost up, she flipped open her red umbrella and began retracing the path that brought her there. Walking through the mud while holding her umbrella and slightly lifting her lowers to avoid contact with the dirt on street, she saw the same girl, her subject, in a tunnel to the right. Standing in the similar block printed black dupatta, and floral green skirt, she was settling down with her family alongside all their stuff piled up by the wall. She stood there looking at her. Then giving the known stranger one last look of goodbye, she left and joined the dispersing crowd on the street.