Sunday, November 15, 2015

The girl in the polka dots

Sometimes, some small acts from people you least expected bring in a whole great act of kindness in your lives. Even if it is just a very small act, which, when seen as a whole picture appears just like a small dot in a huge mural, but that small act from an insignificant looking person turns your life upside down.

The winter season was on its onset, and why wouldn't it be? It was almost late November. The weather was usually colder, and in the mornings, particularly, at the time when I used to go out for the morning walk, it used to be pretty cold. Since it felt colder, I now changed my time to go out for the morning walk.

Now this is where my inspiration came in. The sun was around the horizons, and the skies were shining blue above and when I was about to finish my workout in the park and started moving out towards one of the exits, I saw a small girl. The girl in the polka dots. She must be around 7 or 8 years old, and was wearing a white frock with big polka dots in pink colour. She was picking up something from jogging path, and was putting that in the small bag she was holding. As I reached her, I stopped by to see what she was picking up. The girl noticed me stopping, and turned towards me, and gave a smile, and turned back to pick up the next thing. As she reached and bent down, I saw her picking up the scattered pieces of plastic. It didn't look too unusual to me, as I had seen people, including some children too, picking up plastic and such stuff for a living, but in this instance, the girl I saw looked like one from a well to do family. Anyways, I brushed aside the curiosity and proceeded with my workout, came back home, and then went to office after a while.

The next day too, when I finished my workout and was about to leave the park, I saw the girl, again, and she was again picking up the plastic pieces from the path and from the ground nearby. Something struck me again. Maybe, it was my curiosity from yesterday that again cropped up, but I subdued it and moved over. Again the next day, same thing happened and I did what I did the previous two days. Now my curiosity in that small girl had peaked. I decided to ask her the reason for her picking up the junk from the park. Apparently this girl was probably in some situation which forced her to do this, maybe, for a living. The next day, as I reached the park for the workout session, I reached out for her directly. She was, as usual, picking up the plastic litter people had thrown all over the place. Now, I couldn't resist so I asked her - Beta, kya kar rahe ho? (What are you doing, child?). And to that question, I was expecting an answer that would have given a sense of needfulness, or maybe, proud. The answer came in, and it wasn't even the last thing I had expected. She said, Kuch nahi uncle, bas apni duty poori kar rahi hoon! (Nothing, uncle, just doing my duty!) Duty? I was stunned! All of a sudden it felt like someone had employed such a little kid to clean up the park? My tone now changed when I inquired her about who had asked her to do this (as a duty)?

Her answer was something that somewhat ashamed me. She said, - Kisi ne nahi, meri book me likha hai ki apne surroundings ko clean rakhna hamari duty hai. Mai yahaan khelne aati hoon shaam ko, apne friends ke saath. (No one, a lesson in my book teaches that it's our duty to keep our surroundings clean, and I come here to play in the evening with my friends).  Now, I was feeling ashamed. This was astonishing. A small kid learnt a lesson from her book, and she not only remembered it, but was actually acting on it, and we grown ups did a bit too little on the good things we want our children to learn and act on. I still asked her how much she expected to change alone, to which she replied, Kisi ke kuch naa karne se zyaada. (More than no one doing anything). But this was no time to feel ashamed and again do nothing. I saw her going back to her work, picking up the litter, in her small bag. I felt motivated to follow her. In our interaction of just a couple of minutes, she had become my role model, an inspiration big enough to keep me inspired for rest of my life. She was really #madeofgreat. She inspired me a lot, so much so that I was motivated enough to help her out clean the litter from the park, every morning, spending just around 10 more minutes in the process. For weeks, we worked together, but still today, I don't know her name. If I have to, I refer to her as The Girl in the Polka Dots.