Meeting someone is never a casual affair. Some who vanish into thin air without announcing, leave you with the best memories to cherish for life, and a mystery to solve.
On a usual day at college, I went to the parking lot to grab my scooter & hurry back home, when I heard a gruff but polite voice ask me from behind: “May I help you, please?” I turned back and was surprised to see the tiny figure which had produced that voice. I lit up with joy instantly.
No matter how coarse a hill is, it still looks beautiful. The little boy’s face wore a nose that looked like a slide in the children’s park. He had beautiful bright eyes & a big forehead. His hair resembled a porcupine’s back. His attractive set of teeth had a twin canine which made him look adorable when he smiled with opened lips. His clothes looked shabby & his body was covered in black dust hiding his whitish complexion. Despite this, he seemed vibrant & refreshing.
It is a wonderful feeling when you know that kids admire you. After he had offered to help me with my scooter, his next question was: Aren’t you eating Tikki today? I was surprised he knew that I commonly grabbed a plate of Tikki from the Pani Puri (famous Indian snack) vendor who had his outlet next to the parking zone. The little boy pulled out Rupees Ten from his pocket and said: Shall I treat you today? I laughed heartily at what he said and wanted to give him a tight hug. On that day I had forgotten to carry my wallet and realized that the only Ten rupees note I had was missing when I searched my jeans pocket. I asked him the reason for his generosity, and he said: Your money slipped out from the pocket at the college gate, and I followed you to return it. I didn’t know how to react at that instance but accepted his treat on a condition that we both shared the plate of Tikki.
While the vendor was busy making Tikki for us, the little boy told me his name was Nayaz & he was nine years of age. He revealed that he begged around the college vicinity for a living.
Nayaz was from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, & was sold by his parents to a child trafficking agent in Bangalore. Nayaz disclosed that he had no complaints about life, as his parents could meet the family’s ends with the money they had received from the agent. He also expressed that the agent was kind to all the children, and took good care of their needs. Nayaz told me he regretted that he couldn’t study and that he always wanted to approach me and shake hands to say a Hello, but was shy. After listening to the heavy side of the story, I could only pat his back with a smile.
In the matter of few seconds, I sailed through the feeling of helplessness, that I could do nothing to help Nayaz. When I asked him if he was interested to get out of the situation he was in, he instantly denied. I did not bother to ask him why, as I had another question on my mind. Nayaz’s answer shook me on the inside when I asked him why he had returned my Ten rupees and let go of the opportunity. He said: “Didi, I am a beggar and not a thief.”
As I recovered from the state of embarrassment, I saw his fellow mate Qadir join him. There were five Tikkis in the plate, and I did not feel like eating even one. I left the plate for the two and rode back home lost in thoughts about life’s cruel ways.
Nayaz & I became best pals. Soon my friends grew fond of him too. Our association lasted for a year in the same fashion. I took Nayaz for short rides on my scooter, carried old clothes which were in good condition for him, & bought books to teach him the English alphabets. Nayaz was quick at learning but confessed that he couldn’t accept the clothes as it would annoy his agent if he ever knew about it. The difficulty was, Nayaz would not look like a beggar in those clothes.
A few days later, a friend of mine suggested, that we could speak to an NGO he was aware of for Nayaz. When we informed Nayaz about it, he looked a little disturbed to us. We asked him to think about it and get back to us the next day. Nayaz agreed, and we departed for the day.
The next day after college, my friend and I waited for Nayaz at the parking lot as usual. Nayaz did not turn up. We spotted his friend Qadir after a week near the college and learned upon inquiring that Nayaz was sent away to another place and no one knew where it was. When Nayaz tried to convince the agent about the NGO proposal which my friend and I had offered, his agent made sure he changed Nayaz’s operating area and strictly advised the other kids not to appear near our college for a few days.
It was the last time I heard about Nayaz. I still feel hopeless, that I could be of no avail to him. I am sure that there are many beings like me who’ve had to lose even before they battled.
His sweet memories are like the taunting mystery. I wish I find him one day.
Child Trafficking is a social evil that exists in our environment like microorganisms, for which we have wrongly developed the immunity. It’s time we curbed the mounting appetite.
My only intent through this story is to request everyone to do their bit in helping any Nayaz they know. Together we can change this world into a better planet