Roses are red, and love is blue…
Ten years back, walking down MG road with my object of affection, I was suddenly accosted by this six-year old something with a bunch of roses in her tiny hands. What struck me immediately was her resemblance to the now-forgotten child star of the 80’s – baby Guddu. It is at such times you wonder how a little blessing from the heavens can make such a sea-change to where one can be – on the street selling roses or on the silver screen making oodles of money.
With an effervescent smile, and a an equally rehearsed bravado, she made her marketing pitch: “Bhaiyya, phool le lo na bhaiyya, teen ke bas paanch rupaay.” Just to tease her a little, I asked her why she chose to address me in Hindi. She was taken aback, only slightly, before she replied shyly, “Kyon ki aap bahut sweet ho.” I have to admit that it doesn’t take much effort for anyone below ten years to turn me into putty, but this girl had outdone them all in one masterstroke. The hugs and kisses that were so wanting to burst out of me at that moment were restrained with the effort kids reserve when refusing their share of chocolate.
Five rupees may not sound like a lot of money now, but a decade back, and with my frugal stipend, it was quite a bit of indulgence. When there is the person deserving of those roses next to you, and a little kid strumming away your heartstrings, money suddenly attains a philosophical note. The five rupees was hers, the roses were in the hands of the one whose name cannot be spoken, and the person who gained nothing was the happiest of them all. Such a crazy world, this.
Months after this encounter, I kept wondering how it would be to adopt this kid if I had the means and courage to do so. It would have been a cozy family of three. Unfortunately, dreams have a way of breaking up, and a few years down the line, the one who still makes my eyes go moist on a rainy day suddenly realized that love is not everything in life. There are other things – like parents, society, and one’s own cowardice.
I pretty much stayed away from Bangalore for a few seasons. There are ways in which the smells, sights, and sounds of a city can overcome one even when completely guarded. When I was back on MG road again, my eyes without my knowing were scouring for the girl with the roses. The moment I saw her, I knew I could make no mistake. She was with her friends selling roses, and I am not quite sure if it was my stare that got her to walking towards me. This time, she spoke in English, “Sir, only 25 Rs sir for three roses”. Of course, she did not recognize me. Did I want to tell her how many times she had trespassed over my thoughts all these years? Nah! I paid up, returned her still effervescent smile, and handed over the roses to the person next to me, who couldn’t resist asking, “Kya yeh wohi ladki hai?”