I am a roadside pani puri seller near the big temple. To reserve a place on a lane near the temple is not easy. Abuses from other sellers, threats from the local free eating goons, daily cut to the local police station are just a part of my entrepreneurship routine. I got used to it now.
It was a Thursday and the rush was more than usual. I saw this small girl asking me for a plate of pani puri. I usually see her begging with her mom and little brother near the temple. I looked around and saw her helpless mom standing nearby with that baby brother on her hips. I understood they are out of funds. I don’t offer free pani puris to beggars since there are too many and I can’t do enough justice. I am not that stone-hearted but my situation is such.
I clearly denied and the little girl started crying. She ran to her mother and started throwing all sort of tantrums for a plate of panipuri. I first thought, maybe some customer would offer her a plate free but none bothered that day. I definitely felt very sorry for her mother. I was busy attending customers but through the side-eye, I noticed her mother rushing towards the roadside shops one by one. She kept going shop after shop followed by the loud cry of her little girl. Maybe that was her bad day, nothing worked out. People shoed her away with a lot of irritation because of that girl’s cry. The girl had no idea about what her mother was going through.
I had more customers to attend and after a short while, I saw them near me again. The girl’s mother started talking to me. Her tone was very innocent.
” I seldom get money, people are paying the beggar sadhus who are wearing ocher robes. Where would I leave these two kids even if I have to go for work”. On top of it, this girl is crying for pani puri.”
The girl was on high decibels, she has become intolerant by now. I wasn’t ready to relax my rules and this happened.
An elderly woman bought a roll of Jasmine flowers from my immediate colleague and was about to head towards the temple. The girl’s cry grabbed her attention. The lady promptly walked back, returned the flowers and took the money back with a promise to buy double the quantity tomorrow. She came to me, gave me that 50 bucks and eyed me to start giving the little one pani puris.
The little girl was swallowing pani puris as if she would never get to eat them in her life. The elderly women sat on the platform and became a silent spectator of the eating competition with a single participant. She eyed me again to reload her plate. I continued till the girl’s small tummies became fully loaded.
The elderly women inquired if there was some balance in the money she gave and offered the change to the girl’s mother. It’s time for me to wind up the shop and the story. I saw the elderly women walking away from the temple. The flower seller lady asked loud, “are you not going to the temple?”. The elderly women said, “I am done with the Darshan”.