Contributed by: Angana Prasad
Dated: 25th May, 2013
KHEL sessions with children are the best part of my job. If the session is followed by a chocolaty treat (as it often is), my evening can’t get any better. On one such indulgent evening, I had an experience with a little boy who made me re-think about assumed non-selfish image. It wasn’t something he asked or said, neither did he do something unusual, rather, it was his innocence that pulled me into a tornado of thoughts and questions about myself.
Gorging over an amazingly delicious piece of Chocolate truffle, I came out of the bakery only to see a little boy staring longingly at the pastries laid on the shelf. I couldn’t help but ask him if he wanted to have some. Initially he looked at me in disbelief but shortly agreed. Both of us walked back in into the bakery shop. I did not like the way the bakery uncle looked at my little guest, so I quietly rested my hand on his shoulder, establishing it pretty quickly that we are together and are bringing him business.
After reaching the pastry section, I asked him to choose from a huge line of options. Waiting for him to select the most sinfully attractive chocolate pastry, I was quite surprised to see him choose the most simple piece of a heart shaped cake, which had no cream on it at all. Trying desperately to cover my guilt, I asked him to please please please select another pastry that at least satisfies the hungry glances made at them. He opted for a White Forest pastry next, got his piece and left with his eyes fixed on his feast.
I don’t know if this experience left me happy or satisfied about sharing a moment of happiness (finishing chocolates truffles without having to share with anyone else make me the happiest) with my little friend or sank me deeper into my guilt of having looted my friends or at least wanting to loot them every time they offered to treat me. This little boy, who I don’t know how many cakes would have had in his life asked for the simplest, smallest piece. Possibly he doesn’t like the creamy pastries, possibly he didn’t know which colour meant what flavour or possibly he didn’t understand which one he would like to try. Whatever it might be, I don’t think I want to understand that. I just wanted to deconstruct my thought and know what was it in the choice that surprised me? What made me expect him to take the most attractive looking pastry? Why was I thinking he would pick the most expensive one? And most importantly, despite working with underprivileged children for so long, knowing about the begging scandals so well, understanding in what hopeless conditions children live off the streets, I still expected the little boy to ‘loot’ me by asking for the most expensive pastry!