On a usual busy day of my life, my phone rings with an extra bit of vibration and excitement, ‘Drum calling..’ screen reads. ‘Drum’ is an old friend, and he is very fond of chatting around about anything and everything and hence we named him drum.
I was so glad to get his call after a gap of two months. He calls to say that he is around and would like to catch up. We fix the time and place and get on with our left over chores for the day. In the evening, we meet at the Domino’s and dive deep into the sea of moments we two had been collecting together over the years. Service guy brings our large size pizza which we didn’t even remember that we had ordered. While blasting into non stop meaningless laughter, we hardly could finish a slice or two. Drum calls it a night and decides to leave me alone with the over-sized pizza and a suggestion that I should dump it in the bin.
I take a second in deciding what to do with the left over pizza and suddenly it crosses my mind that it could be useful for some needy ones. Each festive season, I distribute plenty of goods to the kids in the slums of Sector 17, Faridabad, India. I decide to give the Pizza to the kids in the same area.
It was around 9.30 pm and I didn’t realize that it could be so dark and so cold in the winter at that hour. No one was around the slums as all seemed to be deep asleep under the rags and polyethylene sheets, after all that is all they could afford to have during the winter. A few steps more and I find 3 women sitting just outside their slum close to the fire of a burning bicycle tyre. I get out of the car with the pizza in my hand and walk towards them.
Trying to gather their timid bodies, they look at me with their confused eyes and one of them hesitantly asks,
‘जी बाबूजी ? (yes sir?)’.
‘आप लोग सोए नहीं अभी तक?’ (you are still awake at this hour?’, I asked just to break the ice.
‘बाबूजी बस इतने ही कपडे हैं की बच्चे ओढ़ के सो सकें, हमें तो इस आँच का ही सहारा है’, (sir, we have just enough bedding for the kids, we will pass the night sitting around this fire), one of them replies.
‘ये ले लो ‘ (pls take this), I offer the pizza to them. All of them look at the packet with a big question in their eyes as they had no idea what the item was.
‘ये खाने की चीज़ है’ (its something to eat), I said to them.
Before she could even hold on to the packet I offered, two 3-4 yr old kids ran out of the slum and snatched the packet from my hand. They started eating the slices as if they had been starving forever!
Women look at the kids with affection and one of them says to me, ‘शुक्रिया बाबूजी, वरना आज तोः बच्चे भूखे ही सोए थे ‘ (thank you sir, kids went to bed without food today).
Her sentence felt like a sword in my heart, I sat in my car but couldn’t even drive for a while, I kept looking at the kids still eating every tiny bit of that pizza. The pizza which we were about to throw in the garbage bin. Somehow, I felt guilty, very guilty rather, as if I am responsible for the starvation of those kids. I swear to god, I could not sleep even for a second that night. Everything had vanished from my world that night except the picture of those kids and that very sentence of their mom, ‘शुक्रिया बाबूजी, वरना आज तोः बच्चे भूखे ही सोए थे ‘ (thank you sir, kids went to bed without food today)…
Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClql5f-vZEJ18_HK1DsinuA