“Maa says I can go to school once we finish all the balloons”
I’ve been pushing hard to get my works published for the last four months, but all I have published till now is nothing but rejection. Two months back, my roommate celebrated his birthday, and he wanted to crown it all at a nearby temple. Being a Saturday evening, I didn’t have any publisher meeting either. My friend knew very well that I was an atheist, yet he asked if I could just accompany him to the entrance of the temple. I agreed to his request, considering it was his birthday.
I sat outside the temple under the shadow of the peaceful Peepal tree, waiting for my friend to come out, when a small kid carrying three balloons in his hand came and stood in front of me. According to his height, he looked not more than five to six years old. He wore a Torn shirt, old shorts, and was without slippers. As I looked at him, he said, “Bhaiya (brother)”. That’s all. He didn’t say a word after that. He just kept staring at me.
The kid who should have been playing with those balloons at his age was rather selling it; and the worst part was, according to him, it was clear that he could only sell it.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“Kukoodu,” he replied.
“What is your name?” he asked back.
“My name is Devansh,” I replied smiling.
“Where do you live?” I asked.
He pointed with his finger to a non-ending side of the road and said, “There!”
I looked at his finger first and then to the road he was pointing to, neither his finger nor the road had my answer.
“You?” he asked, while still holding the balloons in my direction.
“Somewhere there only,” I said, still not clear about what this city had in store for me.
It was one such day when I wanted to run away from the ‘hush hush’ of this big city. All I wanted was to run away from my failure.
“How old are you, kiddo?” I asked him.
“Maa, how old am I?” he asked, screaming to his mother who was pumping balloons on the other side of the passage. She sat there wearing an old Saari with her small child on her lap. His mother smiled at me and said to him, “Six.”
“Six years,” he said, looking at me.
“Will you take one?” he asked, looking at his balloons.
“What will I do with them?” I asked smiling.
“Give it to any kid at your home, they love it,” he replied.
Yes, he was just 6!
“Who told you that?” I asked.
“Many people buy it for their kids.”
“Do you like balloons?” I asked again.
“No, I just want to finish them.”
“Why?” I asked.
He looked at his mother and didn’t say anything.
“Do you go to school?” I asked to break his silence.
“No! Maa says I can go once we sell all these balloons,” he replied with utmost innocence.
“Do you want to go to school?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Because I will get to wear new dress and new shoes,”
“Do you know what else you can do at school?”
“I could play,” he replied with a smile.
Yes, I bought all the balloons from Kukoodu’s hands so that he hates those balloons a little less!
No, I didn’t buy all the balloons which his mother was carrying because I couldn’t break the trust he had on her!
As I started walking back, I could relate each of my rejections with each of the balloons Kukoodu had in his hands. The fear of not being able to sell all the balloons was scary, but the thought of not even trying was scarier! Since that day, I have sold twenty more balloons.
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