An empty stomach and not a dime to spare
It was an unusually hot and sweltering afternoon. The street urchin made a somersault on the South Mumbai beach to impress couples sitting barefoot on the sand and thrust his tiny palm for a rupee. He was chased off. He lost count the number of time his heart was broken. How can people deny a homeless child like me? Don’t they have a heart? They can cuddle and snuggle on the beach in public glare but not a single cent to shed for a penniless child.
He roamed aimlessly on the beach but no one tendered him a single coin. It’s going to be a bad day. How to feed the empty stomach? He plodded his steps and slept on the parapet. The only solace was the sun and tree shade that flashed on his face. His lip quivered. A timid smile surfaced. His eyes were closed but he mollycoddled like a baby. He could feel the sea breeze and water splash that made his sleep as if he is lying on a soft bed. It was his favorite place. The sea water was his lullaby and this universe his mother.
Moving his skinny body around the cement concrete, he felt something moving and a mosquito nibbled on his nose which he chased it with his finger. He heard cackle of laughter and whispers of couples sitting next to him. He slowly opened his eyes. The sunset has stepped. It must be evening and the time to take his chance on the promenade, spreading his palm to the crowd swarming for long walks. The cops will chase him. Perhaps, some kind souls will show pity on him and shower him with a dime to fill his torn trousers.
He heard a baby wailing and the soft Mama cuddling and murmuring verse of love into the ears of the small creature. How did he wish someone would touch him with the same tenderness? He will never know what how the maternal affection and chiding feel like. Strangers have slapped him, denied him food and made him sleep on an empty stomach for nights or mercilessly threw him out of restaurants. It’s a daily sight to be looked at with contempt as if he is plagued by some non-communicable disease. He cursed his fate. Hands are soiled every single day, rummaging through garbage for left-overs outside hotels to satiate hunger.
He felt something was moving on his sleeping space and he twisted his body to feel a crumbled object. The homeless boy moved his body at ease to find folded newspaper wrapped something by his side. He felt a tingle sensation that ran through his mind and body. It was hot samosas, vadapav, banana and a small carton of Appy juice. He looked around and saw a young girl wearing blue denim scampering away like a thief or a sinner. The homeless boy closed his eyes, muttered a small prayer and exuded, ‘Bless your heart, stranger. May happiness land on your lap forever.’ He shovelled the food down his throat.