It was a sweaty afternoon. She hurriedly filled the plastic bag with yesterday’s leftovers and then, impulsively threw in a few chocs that had lingered awhile in the fridge. The street was dotted with tiny apartments stacked in tall unidimensional columns. On the other side of the street was the temple that housed a few Hindu gods and had its fair share of devotees; this temple supported a thread-bare ecosystem, an ecosystem that had twiggy old men and scraggly-haired, ragged women who kept a worn eye on their half-naked sun-burnt children while trying to eke out a living making garlands for the deities housed by the temple. On good days, they also got alms thrown carelessly/pityingly/god-fearingly/with the barest tinge of disgust by the devotees. It was this eco-system that was her destination.
She scanned the faces; most people were dozing, unable to combat the vengeful afternoon sun. She decided on a little boy who was busy twisting a dry garland around his scratched wrist-” was he playing ‘Prince, Prince’?” she wondered. No sooner had she put the bag into his outstretched arms than she started back, as if unable to bear the thought that her under-performing appetite had the power to give such happiness to another human being; to be a casual witness to such joy would be criminal, she thought as she hurried back.
On her way up the slope, she caught sight of another little boy who was staring intently at the row of discarded cars that lined the street, his hands poking out of his torn pockets; she felt a lump in her throat- god, why replicate poverty soo many times over, with but the slightest of variations? after all these aeons, zillions of garlands and futile prayers, why have you not turned humane?