The Girl and the Fruit Seller

I saw a little girl with tattered clothes and bare feet carrying a 10 rupees note and standing next to a fruit stall asking the seller to give her a sweet melon.

“It costs 20 rupees” replied the seller.

The girl pleaded him to give her the melon with the money she had but the seller bluntly refused. Agitated by his behavior, I entered the scene and asked him to give her whatever she wanted to which the girl hesitantly pointed towards the melon again.

“Give her this”, I ordered pulling out a 20 rupees note from my purse.

“It is for 30 rupees,” remarked the fruit seller.

“A while ago you were selling it for 20 rupees”, I retorted

“Yes, that is only for this girl. For you, it is 30 rupees.” he answered.

I looked at the little girl’s face and held myself back, handed over 30 rupees to that seller looking straight into his eyes trying to smash him without words. He turned his face away. I waved a good-bye to the girl and she smiled.

Next day at the same time, I saw the same fruit seller with his stall across the street. At about 20 steps from where he stood was another lady selling fruits with several buyers around her as the man sat ideal watching the scene.

The first thought that occurred to me was ‘Karma’. But eventually thinking about it again, I realized that who am I to think of Karma and judge someone. Maybe he himself wasn’t making enough for a living and sought a sort of compensation from me the other day. Who knows? God knows better.

― Nazneen Kachwala

2nd June 2019

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A Packet of Milk

I was getting late for office that day and was rushing back home on my bike after the morning routine when I saw a packet of milk right in the middle of the road. “Someone must have mistakenly dropped it”, I thought and slowed down a bit to find out who it was but couldn’t figure out and moved ahead. Then I thought of picking it up and giving it away to some child on the street who could satisfy his hunger. Having gone back and forth with this though once or twice I took a U-turn to pick up the milk packet lying unattended and just as I was getting closer, I saw a rider smashing the packet under his wheel. All the milk was scattered on the road before my eyes.

I gave an angry look to the biker but soon understood that it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t do that on purpose. My delay in making a decision was the real culprit. And I understood that all the good intentions make the least sense when you cannot take a decision in time.

Nazneen Kachwala

1st June 2019

Banana & Monkey

As I sat on the park bench one-morning breathing freshness and watching the children play while the elder ones were throwing their arms up in the air and relentlessly laughing and, two lovers were sitting under the shade of a tree speculating their future, a huge group of some 20-30 monkeys raided towards me. I didn’t move but in moments they managed to draw all my attention. There were big males in the group but most of them seemed to be young mothers with their tiny ones suckling them. Many of them had scarce body hair, fragile limbs and looked just a few days old.

As they rolled on the grass and pulled each other’s tails while climbing the branches of a nearby mango tree bearing dozens of raw mangoes, three men walked slowly towards these joyful creatures who scattered as they neared. The men brought with them some bananas to feed these mischief mongers. One held the bag of fruits, one distributed it among our cousins and of course, the last man adhering to the religious custom stood there with a mobile phone capturing all this in his camera.

All the monkeys gracefully took one-one banana each as it was offered to them and gulped it down quickly. However, the man was left with a few more bananas and wanted to get done with it. He went ahead to give them out to a mother monkey who was resting nearby but she didn’t look interested. Insisting her to have it, the man kept stepping closer. To her discomfort, she groaned showing all her sharp teeth and sprinted with her baby on the top of the tree.

Wait… what? Why didn’t she take an extra banana? Yes, she wasn’t hungry but she could have saved for later hours when she could soon be hungry!

Ahh…that’s what we do, not them. The mastery of these creatures to live in the present and care least beyond that amazes me and makes me feel stupid of burdening myself by stockpiling stuff and calling it life!

How exciting could our lives have been, how many mountains could we have climbed, how many places could we have explored, how deep could we have dived, and how far could we have walked if we went down to just the essentials!

In Search of a Place Called Home

It is iftaar time. Men decked in pearl white kurtas with traditional golden caps and women ladened with ornaments and crisp dresses, all wearing some itr probably from the land of Arabs are hurrying towards the mosque to answer the call for prayer.

At the doorsteps of His home, I see a lady in late sixties stretching a tattered dupatta with both her arms and resting her head at the hinge of the gate, aimless looking into nowhere with a still freckled face. There’s also a wrecked man in his seventies hopefully gazing at every face, a child who can barely walk and young girl with a husband to please.

God’s house is full of worshipers, and at the backdrop of the ‘pious’ preaching, there is a constant surge of chattering not matching with my chord. Men and women are restlessly waiting for the Azan to fill in their empty pits with butter chicken and kebabs while the little child outside cries for some milk as his young mother cannot lactate.

I am sure the God I know has vacated the place long ago and is in search of a place called home to spare Himself of being suffocated.

A Sweet Stranger

Sometimes it takes ages to know someone and at times just a moment is enough.

Bollywood (Often)

Well, in my story this is partially true.

Around a month ago while I was up for a morning walk in the park, I was interrupted to slow down by someone I met for the first time. He walked towards me with a smile, greeted a good morning, gave me a sugar toffee and went on to walk in the opposite direction than mine. After a few minutes, we crossed our paths again and this time he gave me a small piece of coconut that he got as an offering from the nearby temple. I accepted it with a smile of gratitude. Next day I saw him again and he saw me too but he didn’t look at me and I too randomly ignored. Ever since then we kept seeing each other in the park quite often and occasionally exchanged smiles.

Two days ago, I met him again. This time, reading the inscription on my t-shirt he came to me with a broad smiling face and said, “You don’t look weird.” and gave me a small coconut piece. I laughed as I knew what he was talking about and popped the soft chunk into my mouth. When I walked a few steps ahead, again in the other direction than his, I realized that I was fasting that day and wasn’t supposed to have it. Unfortunately, I had to spit it out but could not hold on to my amusement as what just happened was rare. I don’t ever remember myself mistakenly putting anything in my mouth ever since I have been fasting for Ramadan or otherwise.

His charisma was such that I forgot about my Roza. He is a 70-year-young man whose name I know not. I call him a sweet stranger.

Disguised

Robed in white
posing pure
hearts malign
self-proclaimed
descendants
using Allah
to acquire
their God —
palaces, scents
velvet carpets
goblets of gold
gifts from fools
conferring them
as their heads
since ages long
and then by those
who pay them by
the sweat of their brows.
They turn brothers
against brothers
friends into foe
for their realm
shouldn’t go
the power hungry
write their own Quran
and preach with a fee
adorning it as spirituality
they who walk down the aisle
with men hired to
sing ode of their praises
how they enjoy the spree!
The curse casted
decades ago
shall continue
for decades more
the prudents care not
and the nincompoops
continue to grow
for they are blind to know
those disguised as swan
are in real crows.

© Nazneen Kachwala
24-05-2019

Aspirations

I started to study at a very humble playschool located nearby our home in the early 90’s. I was barely three-years-old when my father accompanied me to collect my very first progress report card. My class teacher was a very kind lady. I still remember standing near the door of the classroom as I saw her handing over my report card to dad with a broad smile. My father walked towards me, I held on to his finger and moved towards his blue-colored Bajaj scooter parked somewhere around the building. He didn’t tell me anything regarding my progress at the school. Probably he thought I was too little to understand. However, on reaching home my first question to him was, “Pappa what happened at the school? What did my teacher say?” “You’ve done better than anyone else in your class”, he responded. I somehow knew that my dad was proud of me and it was at this occasion when the seeds of aspirations were sown in the wet soil of my mind for the first time.

Since then, I did well academically, studied Engineering and secured a good paying job. Years passed in the blink of an eye and the overwhelming dose of aspiration injected into my mind was now dozing me off. Needless to mention, I became a sheep with no firm goals and a part of the rat race very soon. My life was reduced to completing daily tasks on the desk, going back home, watching a TV show and repeating it all over again the other day. I was 23 and by then had received some seven-eight marriage proposals. I aspired to have a fancy marriage of my dreams which seemed unaffordable then so turned down all such offers. I aspired to pay off my family’s loans, buy a new house, a new car, travel across the world and donate a share of my earnings to those in need. But how was all this possible by doing something which I never had fun with? I dreaded going to work almost everyday. The corporate life took to my nerves but I had no choice. It was too late as I was by now shouldering a major portion of the financial responsibility for my family. Taking that ‘bold’ step of leaving the job could bring down everyone’s expectations into dust. And I wasn’t courageous enough too. I dragged myself to work everyday, cursing myself, my family, and the whole social structure. I was drained out of emotional energy and reduced to bones, until one day I randomly happened to write down something in my phone. I called it to be poem then but today after four years, I am convinced that it was far from being one.

Fortunately, since then there was no looking back. I spilled everything in my heart on the paper. The sky now appeared clearer than before and small efforts each day laid down the foundation of what I aspire to do for the rest of my life. Never had I thought I’ll be writing for the big names in the country, nor I ever had a scope to think out of the box. However, I now find inspiration everywhere, there’s hope looking straight into my eyes and smiling at me. Although I haven’t quit my job, I have found means to take up whatever excites me alongside. I can see light at the end of the tunnel. And trust me there’s nothing that could be more enthralling than that!

And the best part is —

My aspirations have changed and I haven’t stopped aspiring. For aspiration is life and I am yet alive.

— Nazneen Kachwala