Scene 1- a red light
A little girl goes around knocking at car windows, asking for money. She is twelve but appears to be much older. Poverty has aged her much before her time. She has darkened from the rays of the sun and also from the fumes emitted by the cars among which she is walking now. She has not bathed in days and an unpleasant odour hangs about her. She has been starved to the point where, being tall for her age, she resembles a human stick insect, all limbs and a scrawny neck. Her dress used to be white but appears to have been used as a canvas on which some inventive mind has painted with shades of yellow and brown. Maybe that’s the reason it is rarely washed, lest the masterpiece be washed away, but most likely it’s the other way around.
Walking beside her, his hand clenched tightly in hers, is a small wide eyed boy, probably her brother. He appears to be about five or six years old.
The light is still red and she continues to walk among the cars. Most of the time she is ignored after a customary glance, sometimes people are too busy even for that. If she is lucky a window comes rolling down and a hand emerges clutching a ten or twenty rupee note. However, most of the time she contents herself with the one or two rupee coins that people hand out to her.
She is also wary of people who might kidnap her. Her friends seem to disappear often enough. Come to think of it she last saw Ravi two weeks ago.
A small boy presses his chubby cheek against the window as she passes by. He looks fat from all the chips he has been eating. He throws the wrappers out the window. He smiles at the little girl, the carefree smile of someone who has been sheltered from the harsh realities of life……..
Scene 2- underneath a fly-over
It is dusk now. The little girl walks towards her mother. She opens her palm to reveal a ten rupee note, two five rupee coins and a couple of ones and twos. She hands it over to her mother. She is admonished by her mother for not bringing more, who then shakes her head and brings her dinner. Dinner is a stale chapatti and rajma, probably salvaged from the bins of some restaurant.
It is night time. The little girl is sleeping on a dirty blanket which she shares with her mother and two younger brothers. She is thinking about the boy in the car, his carefree smile. She feels as if she is about to cry but all she manages is a single tear which makes its way to the tip of her nose and rolls onto her younger brother’s forehead. She falls asleep listening to the sounds of traffic.