July,2008 It was a very hot saturday.As per my ritual every school weekend,I was still lolling around in bed even at 09.30 in the morning.Nothing could have motivated me to change my current place,not even mommy dearest's threat of introducing Mr.flipflop to my beautiful face,nothing except the aforementioned 'hot' day. The sweat drenching my powerpuff 'bubbles'pyjamas successfully made me move from belly-flop position on bed to starfish position on the floor. Busily contemplating how could cinderella's shoes have fallen off if they fit perfectly,I failed to hear the knock on my front door. The sound so meek it failed to attract my attention until the third time and it made me suspicious! Afterall I'm home alone(both my parents had just left for work) and the calling bell was working better than me. Before my 13-year-old mind could conjure up situations where a clown came after me with butter knife,number of knockings had increased to five. Dubious yet curious I checked the peep-hole to find a little girl who couldn't be more than 5 years old fidgeting with a stainless steel vessel in her hand,Only then I remembered that it was mid-July. I live in Chennai(Tamilnadu,India) city famous for 2nd longest beach in the world-marina.My mother tongue is Tamil(one of the oldest language)and we have a separate calendar in addition to common one we use and the first tamil month starts from 14th of april. During the Tamil calendar fourth month 'aadi'(July 15-aug 15) we worship goddess parvathi in various ways. one such custom is to visit a temple and cook sweet jaggery rice camping style with clay pot,bricks and dry wood. Few ardent devotees visit as many homes as possible to get raw rice or money as donation. understanding that this slightly anorexic looking,dimpled cherub in a worn out but clean sky blue frock with two ponytails was one such collector floored my mind. As I opened the door I was awestruck by two things.First,her impeccable manners as she sweetly asked me to 'please' give her handful of rice and second,the widest toothpaste advertisement worthy smile she hit me with once she finished requesting. Despite taken aback by this tiny pixie with expressive eyes bravely facing the burning sun,I somehow managed to get a cup full of rice and 4 cent chocolate my classmate had given me the previous day. The little darling was thrilled to see the chocolate and thanked me profusely remarking how her 3-year-old little brother was crazy for them but their mother had very little money to buy it. Her father,an unemployed alcoholic heaped the burden of managing expenses on his wife who managed two jobs(as a waitress and house maid). In order to make their ends meet she had heartbrokenly sent her adorable babygirl to collect rice not for worship but for their own use in upcoming months! Having collected her bounty, madam cutie bade me goodbye exclaiming she was on a very tight schedule thus here I was,once again, sprawled on the floor of my bedroom reflecting on the surprising yet most welcomed meeting I just had with the cheerful little girl. Cheerful little girl,who A)looked anorexic due to lack of food B)wore a patched up frock because her mother struggled to make ends meet C)cherished cheap chocolates yet saved it for her brother and most of all faced all these difficulties with a huge smile and innocent eyes. That was when I had "good god I have been an idiot!" moment. Confused?Well,All the while this tiny pixie was stage-whispheringly confessing to me,she kept crossing her legs dancing like a snake which in retrospect could have been due to leg pain or her need to visit the restroom but being the stupid teenager I was, I failed to question her about it on the spot so I leapt from the floor and rushed outside. Twenty minutes of exploring-my-neighbourhood later I understood my search party had failed epicly making me conclude she must have finished with this street and moved on. That day at the age of 13, I learned many lessons through this angel (who disappeared just as suddenly as she appeared) I understood the importance of acknowledging my parents sacrifices, I learnt that the comforts I took for granted were luxury to others, I decided to thank god everyday for everything he blessed me with but most of all I learned to face everything with a smile on my face. To most this might be the simplest of encounter but for a naïve teenage girl like me this was one of a life changing moment. Even now at the age of 26, I still dream about that angel who taught me to face all challenges with child like open-mindedness and her mother who undeterred by poverty faced the days with dignity doing her best to raise her children with good behaviour and kind heart. My sweet Angel if you read this one day I thank you for breezing into my life that hot Saturday and changing it within shortest amount of time and fervently hope god has heaped you as well as your little brother with lots of chocolates and love.
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