Tring tring... The phone rang for the sixth time. The blank calls she had been getting since days disturbed
her freelance works. Working alone past midnight, she heard the outmoded
landline phone ring again and remembered why she had, in fact, gotten it disconnected
I wonder why
I did that. I wasn’t poor; I didn’t need money, yet I stole money from those poor
kids. Four coins, to be precise. The kids happened to be playing in the
verandah where our room was. It was a trip to a hill station where we stayed in
a Dharmshaala. I remember there were
approximately 20 rooms on one floor. One of those rooms was ours on the second
floor. This trip could have been fun but no, it wasn’t. I had no friends or
cousins my age there. Alone and bored, I kept pacing up and down the stairs and
remained in the premise. On one such rounds, I noticed a group of poor kids
playing with coins.
just finished their game and were counting numbers. I ignored that and
concentrated on the coins that lay on the stairs below. I picked the coins up exuberantly,
and went up the stairs to hand those to them. What mischief took over me, I
have no idea. I quietly put the coins in my pocket and pranced toward my room
like nothing happened. I knew they had acknowledged the missing coins and I knew
they were frantically searching it everywhere but I didn’t turn back.
Once I was in
the safety of my room, I giggled. How very
smart of me! They will never know it was I. I really can trick people.
then I realized. I had robbed them. They weren’t my friends; I wasn’t supposed
to play games with them. The coins in my hand felt like thorns suddenly, scratching
me to the point that I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I opened my tight
fist to see the coins were of Re 1 each. Not much to me, but they sure meant a
lot to them. Guilt trapped me on my bed. Mamma was sitting right beside me,
probably unaware of what I had done. But when you are six years old, you just
feel like Mamma knows. All mothers
just know everything, somehow.
I felt like
a criminal. Mamma would hate me if she
comes to know about it. Will I be put in jail? I went to the bathroom and
cried. For how long, I don’t remember, but the mirror sure teased me to no end.
I looked at the entangled hair and the quivering lips and cried some more. A
few minutes later, when the adults in the room were engrossed in their
conversation, I went out to check on the kids once. They were still searching
for their beloved coins. How very cruel
of me to do that to them. Please, God, forgive me.
Of course, I
returned their coins to them, adding a few extra of my own and of course, I did
that inconspicuously so that no one could ever blame me of my immaturity. I risked
my credibility in that whole episode but, thank goodness, I was cute enough to
make it through the entire charade. I did not confess this thing to anyone like
I morally should have done. I didn’t have to endure any punishment; I didn’t have
to apologize to anyone; or bear any guilt in front of anyone. Right, I chose
the easier of the two right ways that I had. So what? I have apologized to those
kids, to Mamma, and to God a lot many times since then, in my mind. It’s not
for nothing that I remember this incident after 17 years of an eventful life.
incident reminds me that I am not so nice, after all. I do commit mistakes. I can be utterly ridiculous. And
I am very much able to hurt people. Everyone is, I reckon. Don’t you think it
should be forgivable to be wrong if one has the power to bring himself to do
the right thing thereafter? I think it should be. It’s not very rare that you
get to do the right thing and when your conscience speaks to you, the choice
that you make is all that matters.