Inspired from a beautiful conversation I had with a boy who sells kites in the beach
A SEASHORE STORY
Through the half opened windows, in came the beams of brilliant morning Sun. Chirpings of the birds grew louder and reluctantly Monu opened his tiny little eyes. He knew the windows were opened by his Amma, mom; it was her trick to wake him up. How many million times has he told her not to wake him up so early? Amma would never listen! After all she can never understand the plight of an eight year old little boy, so old she is! He sat upright on the leaf mat and looked at the only new thing the family could afford to buy - a calendar. And to his utmost disappointment he found out; it was yet another Sunday.
Unlike other boys of his age, Monu detested Sundays. It has never been a cozy weekend day for him. Of course there was a relief from the tension and teasing of his school and classmates. But at the same time it meant he had to work all day - from nine to six-thirty. He sold paper kites of different shapes at a nearby beach to support the family earn a living. The heat, at times, was intolerable. But there was no one to whom he could complain. Though very young he was, he could understand the struggles of his parents to make the ends meet. He wondered how it would be like to live a normal, rich life when he saw younger children coming to the beach with their parents, enjoying the waves and buying kites from him. He could almost observe the juxtaposition every time he handed over a kite to another kid; on one side of it was his own hand that looked unkempt and skinny and on the other side was a neat, well cared hand that belonged to some fortunate child. Then there were the unavoidable tourist people, sometimes looking sympathetically at him and some other times, skeptically.
Blocking all those unpleasant images from his mind, he got out of the single room hut that his family owned on the shores of Mararikulam Beach in Kerala. Brushing his teeth with a mango leaf of a nearby tree, he gazed at the age old boat of his father that was totally out of use for years now. His mind drifted back to the day he was scolded by his father for making fun of the dying boat. Sentiments seem to be something he could not understand back then or even now.
A roaring sound of a houseboat's engine brought him back to his senses. This was one thing the whole family hated Sunday for. Kerala appeared to the world as a place of beautiful backwaters and houseboats. The views these houseboats provided were fascinating for those who had tons of money in their vaults and lots of time to spare. But often those views were at the cost a poor man's privacy. The other Sunday Monu's Amma was having a bath on a small pond adjacent to his house when a few foreigners came in a speedboat. Through a long white cylindrical thing they, in turns, looked at her bathing and did something with white flashes. How very demeaning it was! She ran crying to his father, who could do nothing but moan with her. Somebody had once told Monu that in other countries men and women bath together in big blue ponds; but this was India, here nobody did that. It was an act of sheer disrespect! Everybody with ample money thinks that those who don't have it lack dignity and necessity for privacy. He gave the approaching boat a distasteful look and walked back to the hut. There he was welcomed by a warm smile of his mother. Somebody was right when they said, 'A mother's smile cures all ailments'. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â