Friday, 11 September 2015


Even if he sells the whole basket full of pens, he would earn not more than one thousand rupees and out of that how much would be his profit?  The basket clung by his neck and rested on his tummy with that help of a belt, which is so worn out that it was almost threatening to break, any time. A piece of cloth that is used as a hanky to wipe the sweat off his forehead is secured below the belt of the basket serving as a cushion to protect the belt from cutting into the skin at the back of his neck.

He wields his pens across the face of the disinterested passersby, chanting “Panch ka dus, panch ka dus.” (five for ten). It could mean ten pens for five rupees or the other way round. It is deliberately kept vague to encourage enquiries and perhaps selling it either way he must be having some profits.

I watch with admiration for the genuine effort the hawker is making to earn a living through honest means, and not resorting to begging or stealing. I bought bunch of pens worth hundred rupees, I put the pens in my bag without bothering to count. I know how good are the cheap stuffs, that too brought from the foot paths.

There are so many hawkers ready to sell their stuff and get me into bargain. I bought couple of lighters, form another one without bargaining, ten lighters for hundred bucks is a cheap deal. Before I got overwhelmed by the hawkers, I walked away from the spot in haste. The two hawkers must have thought that they have fooled a comparatively smart guy. I can make out from the smirk on their face which is weather beaten due to their nature of work and the emotions toughened by the attitude of the people around them in this ‘dog eat dog’ world.

The image of a man, I saw in social media, trying to sell pens, came flashing back in my mind. The man was not carrying a basket hanging from the neck; instead he had a girl child sleeping over his shoulder, with one hand clutching her and with the other holding couple of pens to sell. The expression of desperation, hope and effort he was putting in to survive in this harsh world were captured together in one picture. And I wondered how much he would make by selling couple of pens? How is he going to feed his, apparently sick, daughter?   

Couple of meters away, in the restaurant, I saw tables filled with plates full of half eaten food left by the affluent people, who just vacated the tables. I settled myself in one corner and asked for a cup of expresso coffee, forgetting the appropriateness of drink in the hot weather, thinking about the unfairness and inequalities within a few square kilometers of the Earth.  All the people are fighting their own battles of life.

A cow approached the doorway and the owner of the restaurant himself gave a piece of roti neatly rolled into its mouth. Just a moment ago a hungry looking bagger was shooed away with vehement verbal abuse…..