The Chutki Girl

1:13:00 AM

I don't know whether I would ever write an autobiography or not. My business mind reminding me always, a hard core fact that very few people would be interested in it and those probably already would know all about my life. Or, at least whatever I want to tell of it.

But their is one incident, carved in my memory that I would always find important to include in any book about myself. Here it goes.

Few years ago, on a breezy night, I had gone for a walk with a friend. He wanted a cigarette for himself and I decided to get a meetha paan for myself from the same place. So, while we were about to approach the Pan Shop, a girl comes in front of us, begging for money. Not interested in encouraging begging on the streets, we shooed her away. The girl in question, I still recall was about 3 or 4 feet in height, and I don't remember her face, hence I cannot estimate her age. Nevertheless, we can say that she was a kid.

At the shop, as we were ordering the stuff we needed, this girl appeared again. This time, beckoning the pan wala, for a packet of chutki. Now, for those who have never heard about chutki, it is a mouth freshener cum pan masala which many believe contains gutkha (tobacco) as well. I have never had it, hence my idea about it is not clear. Still, when we were kids, it was not considered to be a good thing for children and you can google for more info on that.

Coming back to the main story, me and my friend were bit amused in a sarcastic fashion as to is this why children beg money from us? To have chutki? And that too begging late nights for a packet of chutki? The pan wala told us that the girl was a regular customer of his, and he could not refuse her. She gave him the money, which probably she had gotten from another of the pan wala's customers. Now, I have traveled a lot, by God's grace, and am generally numb to suffering of people. Seen a lot, enough to numb your senses to anyone's plight. Hence we moved on, without giving another thought to the matter.

On our way back, we come across this girl again. This time, she is with a boy, definitely younger to her. Both are sharing the packet of chutki. Me and my friend pass through, discussing how such people would never work hard to make a day's living than to beg and eat such stuff.

Circa, 2010 and I still at times, have recurring memories of that night.
What would have happened to that girl in this big wide World?
Was chutki her dinner that night? Possibly, she had nothing else to eat and chutki was the cheapest alternative available.
How many more such girls would be their across India, begging at nights?

Such are the questions, that at times, just pop up into my mind, while driving or gardening or walking. I brush them aside, such are the ways of life I tell myself and move on with my schedule and routine.

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