Friday, December 17, 2010
To support the cause of Akshaya Patra- “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.”
The story of Saloni
The long hours on the study table besieged Shreya and her attention wavered around. She glanced outside the window and followed the streaks of winter rays passing through the foliages in the garden.
But the sight of incomplete topics forced her to come back to studies as it was eight of o’clock already and her friends could drop any time after ten for lawn picnic. Mamma would cook something sumptuous today, she thought retreating to her diagram.
A packet of pop corn she had bought yesterday was kept on the study table to cheer start. She sniffed the packet of popcorn and put it back looking for the work in hand to complete.
“O – Santy is she your daughter? Mamma asked to bai aunty. "What is your name?," “Saloni”,in chuckle a voice answered.
Soon after the noise of shuffling feet heard inside the room and presence of two curious eyes I felt on my back. Saloni who was about my age was standing in the room. I tried to concentrate on my studies but her curious staring had been disturbing me. “what?” I looked her questioningly. She smiled and kept looking at me. “ oh , why are you staring at me?” I asked irritated.
My question made her bolder; she came nearer with smile on her face and picked up my crayons without bothering to answer. “Are these yours? What are you sketching? She glanced at my biology diagram of human brain but turned her attention as she disliked the trouble of its comprehension.
“Why don’t you draw and color birds? You don’t like birds? I would draw one for you.” She stepped ahead boldly that irritated me further.
To put her away I answered, “I don’t like birds looking at my crayons and silently appealing her to place it back.
Her face fell a bit, but again she shot her next question , this time with mom, she had been entering in the room. “Really didi don’t like birds.” Mamma replied laughingly “at this time she can’t afford to like birds” reading my impatience to complete work in time.”
My exams were nearing so my burden of studies.Saloni was accompanying her mother those days regularly. Little did I had idea that the internship of her hard life had already been started.
In leisures she would hover most of the time around Mamma watching and talking with her. “Saloni, aren’t you missing school on regular basis? Will you make up after wards ? Mamma asked.
“Once Ma will regain her health I will join it again,” she replied, helping her in cooking. “Do you help your mother in cooking?”, Mamma asked. Flattered with loving gesture she answered – “aunty I cook alone at home when mother goes for work.”
Their loving conversation irritated me, Mamma had no time to caress me but enough to talk with her, who cares I took out my bycles to cycle outdoor.
After the school for my afternoon rest I decided to open the window to ease the setting mustiness. I found Saloni admiringly looking at my birthday frock left on the chair. A passionate longing had been playing on her dark complexioned face. When her eyes met mine she flung a question with shining eyes. “ Is this the same frock which you had worn on your birthday?”
Her intrusive inquisitiveness appeared friendly to me. I answered “did you like the frock; my grandfather is brought it for me.” “Are your grandfather a rich man?” she popped next question. “That I don’t know but he loves me too much.”
Unconsciously I too started liking her like mom. “When will you wear it next?” she asked. I answered playfully-“ I will gift you this one on your birthday.” Her face beamed with joy and contently she withdrew herself as if she was dreaming.
After few days my exams were over, then I remembered Saloni’s birthday but those days she as well as her mother was not coming at our place.
I put my crayons and frock in a packet to present Saloni as a surprise gift. I rode my bicycle towards her house. In front of asbestos roofed house a drunken man was sitting. Seeing a packet in my hand in inebriated condition he walked towards me. He informed me about the Saloni’s mother sudden demise last week due to pneumonia.
I asked about Saloni as I wanted to leave the stuff over there. I saw the skinny creature was moving out of the house. But that day she seemed someone else, a lifeless, solemnly Saloni with blank eyes. A tired and weak look was reigning on her face.
I took out the frock and crayons from the packet –hoping the same gleam on her face again but I heard an unfamiliar voice of Saloni. Didi will you lend me rupees twenty?, Chottu hadn’t eaten anything since morning. “Can I come at your place to work from tomorrow?
I put the things at the wooden charpoy, feeling so heavy.I was analyzing on the points of my essay on child labor which I had written in the recent exam. And now I was seeking ways to save a life and to stop child labor for a twelve year old with a small brother and ruthless drunken father.
My eyes met her, “no you won’t, I replied to shocked Saloni,BUT I WAS RESOLVED TO DO MY BIT TO SAVE SALONI THROUGH THE AKASYA PATRA.
I the protagonist of this story appeal all of you to make a difference in lives of several Salonies-there are many in India.
Donate to http/www.akshayapatra.org/online.donation