The writer's block had hit me and a critic of my writing pooh-poohed me for writing only about the upper crust of the society ignoring the common people on the streets.
I ignored his harsh statements but the echo would not fade away from my mind and was determined to prove him wrong. But its easier said than done.
Sitting on the window sill with a cup of garam chai in my right hand right and a plate of salted biscuits to relish the afternoon , I watched some urchins on the other side of my building compound , wielding a battered bat and a ball that seemed to had seen some glorious days .
The slight chill that has descended down on Mumbai , robbing off its notorious humidity , was not a dampener for these little bunch of urchins. Gaily , in the hand-me-down , faded clothes they bared their pearlies shouting with a crescendo of s-i-x-e-r every time the ball crossed a certain space limit.
Bare-foot , they were least perturbed of tiny pebbles that pricked their soles.
I pulled the shawl tightly around my shoulders and sat huddled .
This time the ball crossed the building compound wall and was in the no-trespassing zone. The joy of shouting s-i-x-e-r was strangely absent and a silence engulfed the team. How would they retrieve the ball? The watchman of the housing society would not allow anyone of them into our premises. With a bit of anxiety and suspense I craned my neck out of the window to watch the further course of action. The urchin clad in dull white shirt and grey half-pants, probably the most vocal of the gang started to walk away from the compound wall. Was he going to give up the ball or would he negotiate with the watchman? He turned around and started to sprint towards the wall. His team-mates were cheering him and with one mighty leap he was on the compound wall and instantly jumped over the wall to land safely in the housing society play area . He flung the ball at his mates and with a quick sprint and a leap was on the other side of the wall. The children of my housing society playing cricket inside the walls of the compound just watched the urchin's antics and were too stunned even to react. I watched the whole drama unfolding from my fifth floor flat with a mixture of awe and amusement.
I kept my tea-cup down and started working furiously on my lap-top. The curtain on the writer's block has been lifted and I have a new topic. My outlook towards life and its vagaries has taken a small turn. I will move out of my comfort zone and scour for experiences in the open world.
Would the children of my building with their middle class upbringing and convent education and exposure to martial arts like karate and judo have matched the urchin's alacrity , tenacity and agility in retrieving what was rightfully his? The boldness and the ability to take risks and the scare of the unseen dangers makes the educated children passive on-lookers.
Life does not come with an instruction manual of do's and do not's nor does it warn of the contingent hurdles.
Think , plan for an action and execute it with accuracy is the mantra for moving ahead in life and in doing so risk taking and in a case of failure , the subsequent back-up action has to be thought of in the nick of time.
Readers what do you think of the urchin's behaviour/attitude? Do children with sheltered up-bringing lose something valuable in the race of life?