The taxi I was in was nearing the Kalanagar signal in Bandra East. Three street urchins, boys possibly 7 to 8 years old, on crutches were trying their luck at the vehicles that were waiting for the light to turn green. One would feel sad for these kids, maimed from birth or early in life, thinking of how the world would treat them differently compared to normal kids. Being the rainy season, it started to drizzle.
The boys on crutches continued to knock on closed cars windows while the drizzle became more forceful ...
What happened next was interesting. If you have visited a playschool or watched a play or event put up by kids you will begin to appreciate what I saw. Kids follow the normal course of activity as long as there is nothing that distracts them. If there is something more interesting going on, kids will immediately get distracted and will start to go their own way, following the distraction causing element or staring at it. Something similar happened here.
As the drizzle transitioned to light rain, the boys stopped knocking on windows. One of them shouted something to the other two. To which one of the addressees, balanced himself on his crutches and, with what I thought was his better leg, kicked a puddle which was just getting formed, in the direction of the first guy. To which the first guy replied by using his crutches as a lever to haul himself into another puddle so as to splash water on both the other guys.
The signal turned green. As I waited for my taxi to pull away, the boys were fully engrossed in their newly founded sport. They were now standing on both feet, the cripple that caused them to use crutches visibly gone, playing in the rain. I smiled. They were kids after all, stuck in the Big Bombay Begging Syndicate.
PS: I have always hated to give money to beggars. Have you ever thought of what happens with the change you give beggars? I hear that it makes its way to shady markets where shopkeepers in need of change buy Rs.90-95 worth of change by paying Rs.100. A 5-10% brokerage fee for the Begging Syndicate. The worker-bee-like kids get a vada pav a day and 60ml of tea. So next time you see a begging kid. As him if he is hungry. If he indeed is, buy him some food or give him that spare biscuit pack you have.