Jun 15, 2012

The two kinds of Sunshine

Delhi summers, 2.30 in the afternoon. Hot enough to make you feel like a baked potato (or a fried chicken) even inside an A/C car. Tired after driving the whole day through horrendous Delhi traffic and running errands in the heat, all my thoughts are on reaching home as soon as possible.

I try zipping through a green light before it turns red but it changes before I can cross it and so cursing under my breath, I stop the car. I am on the dreaded BRT corridor so I know I am in for a long wait. The sun beats down mercilessly, forming shimmering mirages and almost melting the tar off the road. There’s not a single soul in sight, it’s so hot that even the beggars and the people selling fresh coconut slices refuse to budge from under the shelter of the trees. I increase the car A/C to full and thank god for the black tinted car windows that I have neglected to take off even after our honorable supreme court asked us to. I try to turn my mind away from the heat and think of other things but I am too restless and impatient to do so. 

Suddenly there is a knock on my window. Expecting a beggar I turn towards it with a frown. A small boy of about 11 stands there, holding a bunch of glossy magazines in his hand. He asks me if I will buy a magazine. I can hardly hear him through the closed window but anticipating what he is saying, I shake my head in a No. He asks me again, this time showing the magazines to me one by one. I turn my head to look in the other direction. After a while I notice, or rather sense him still standing there. He is there all right, still holding up the magazines. Catching my eye he smiles, white teeth flashing against brown sunburnt skin and waves the magazines enticingly towards me. Once again I shake my head in a firm no. Not one to be deterred easily, he shows me the magazines one by one, Health, Femina, outlook, India today, some travel magazines. He sees me glance almost involuntarily at the travel magazines and immediately flicks one open to show me the different articles, his smile making his face look almost impish. Again I shake my head, this time gesturing with my hands for him to leave, but I can’t help smiling back a little.  Undeterred by my refusal, or perhaps egged on by my smile, he continues to stand there.  I find myself observing him. His clothes are faded but clean. Scrubbed face and hands and neatly brushed hair, he doesn’t really look like a beggar or a street urchin. I notice that his eyes crinkle up mischievously when he smiles.  

He keeps imploring me to buy the magazines and I keep refusing, but his smile is contagious and I find myself laughing back as I shake my head ruefully. Finally I start fiddling with the car radio, and pretend to be busy changing channels. I look up to see him still standing there patiently. He holds the magazines in one hand, wiping the sweat streaming down his forehead with the other. For the first time I notice that his shirt is clinging to his back and shoulders with sweat and his eyes are almost screwed shut against the harsh glare of the sun. He notices me scrutinizing him and his face breaks into a grin. Grinning back, I finally give in. I roll down the window and buy a magazine and I am rewarded with a smile sunnier than the sun above and an enthusiastic “thank you mam !”

I honestly don’t know why I am writing this here. But something about that little imp of a boy and his smile appealed to me and I just had to blog about it. When I think of him it’s not with pity for a small boy trying to make a living in the heat, but rather of an cheerful, enterprising soul who early in his life has learnt never to be deterred by something as trivial as the summer sun or  a no from a cranky lady sitting in a car !


  1. That was one sunshine story. I do this too, when I can't ignore the persistence and good humour. And I know why you wrote it -- to share the benign sunshine :)

  2. Beautiful beautiful! See, this is why I want you to never stop blogging!

  3. I can understand why you gave in... it could be his persistence, the fact that he was toiling away in heat trying to earn rather than beg or perhaps the fact that he made you smile....

  4. I can understand why you gave in... it could be his persistence, the fact that he was toiling away in heat trying to earn rather than beg or perhaps the fact that he made you smile....

  5. Difficult to resist the innocence of little children! :)

  6. It's amazing how at times even the little kids who come to the car to beg forget to do so when you offer them a broad smile. I think a smile is sometimes the ultimate form of communication.
    Beautifully written, Ruchira. I could picture the scene so well.

  7. I know why you shared it.
    An attitude sunnier than sun :-)
    most likely he was not a starving soul who had to earn a buck desperately, he was doing his job with gusto that's all.
    Lovely story.

  8. @Zephyr- Its hard to ignore sunshine of this kind !
    @shail - :P Thank you. You just made my day !
    @Alka – A little bit of all but mostly because he made me smile !
    @Ash – Welcome to my blog ! children are alays ahrd to resist
    @ Corrine – Welcome here Corrine ! I am glad you enjoed reading this !
    @Sangeeta – You said it ! An attitude sunnier than the sun !

  9. //enterprising soul who early in his life has learnt never to be deterred by something as trivial as the summer sun or a no from a cranky lady sitting in a car !//

    Extremely well put! :) These entrepreneur that you are talking about are certainly less annoying than the men that beg :rollseyes: I will always buy a pack of cotton buds, feather duster from them then wonder - am I encouraging child labor. I wish I can shut my thougts off, like a radio.

    Ciao!!! do stop by my blog, Kappu

  10. That golden spirit is hard to emulate. Perhaps one needs to undergo adversities similar to that soul's to earn it. Beautiful sunshine post!

  11. @Kappu - Welcome here !
    Yes I often wonder if we encourage child labour .. but then this sunshine soul won me over !

    @umashanker - Its a very big thing to be able to smile in the face of adversities !

  12. In this hardened world, we are so used to turning our back or even using rude words on people who we perceive are badgering us, but some of these kids are really ingenious and warm our souls. Enjoyed the post.

  13. Oh I love this post. Corinne shared this and I had to comment. Slice of life ... it left me with a smile

  14. Gorgeous post! Life's little lessons are what make the journey worthwhile....glad you penned this down.

  15. @Rachna - Thank you and welcome here !
    @Ritu - Yes a slice of life indeed !
    That boy made by day !
    @Blogwati Gee - True there is a big lesson to be learnt from that boy !
    Thanks and welcome here !

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