Tuesday, September 1, 2009

of a man among boys

chapewadi. A small village on the foothills of the mighty Sahyadris. Nine punters. A map. A compass. And yes bagful of khakras. They passed by a local school. It was about time for the mid-day meal. The punters entered the school building . A single classroom comprised of 7 classes. Children seated on the floor,grouped accordingly. The walls were painted with typically offwhite chuna. Leakages from the top were quiet visible . Random charts hung from the walls. A small picture of the father of the nation and a small portrait of goddess saraswati thronged the side walls. Two teachers manned the classroom . Equally clueless as the punters were...

The punters wanted to interact with the kids. Spend some time.But the kids looked intimidated. Secretly suspecting whether it was the much dreaded inspection. one of the punters offered them sweets . none of the kids moved forward.refusing to accept. A moment of stillness prevailed.but soon was to pass by. The silence was overpowered by too strong an urge to enjoy the sweet.too tempting and yes a rarity indeed. perfectly human i thought,watching from the sidelines. Quickly, the kids surrounded the punter offering sweets. I looked on.A smile on my face. Enjoying this small moment of "happyness".

He stood there, away from the crowd. At first looked just another kid.Thin,short and wheatish in complexion.impeccably dressed in the khakis. hair heavily oiled and neatly combed. a dot of vermilion on the forehead. holding a slate in one hand and a
jhola with the other.something u could not ignore was the innocence that hit you like the rays from the thousand suns .he was glued to the free food on offer.in a subtle way his eyes tracing his friends and the chaos therein. you could sense that strong craving in his eyes too . but unlike the rest he was not going to create a commotion.the immense self respect far more overpowering than what was on offer.he shook his head and left. before i could realise, i was stung by the dignity on display. stumped by the mature head on such a young shoulder. i stood there fixed to the ground,still trying to come to terms with what had hit me .....

The punters took the leave and left . walked many a miles. visited many a schools . interacted with lots of children . but few a breed like him.. they were indeed rare to find. for they were men among boys.