The boy is paddling fast, braving the cold stinging weather of winter Delhi. He keeps a hawk like gaze at any pebble, stone or petty obstacle which may spring up in his way. Like a skilled cyclist, he maneuvers his way through the late evening traffic. Despite such weather, he has an old and stained shirt to wear with a hand woven covering for a sweater. The sleeves don’t have the luxury of a button to close them around his thin exposed wrist. While I am comfortable in my shoes, my dear companion has been graced enough by the almighty so as to afford the happiness of wearing common flipflops or ‘chappals’. The tires are going fast, producing a whirring sound indicative of an increasing air-deficit in them. Going by his speed, he might have even defeated Shah Rukh Khan in Main Hun Na cycle chase episode.
“Araam se chal le! Itni jaldi kya hai?”
(You can relax!! Why in so much hurry?)
“Bhaiya batting karni hai. Wo log jaldi nikal jayenge!”
(I have to bat! Those people would pack up and leave early.)
“Toh kal kar lena batting! Abhi se jaan aafat mein kyu dal raha hai?”
(So bat tomorrow! Why are you risking our lives for that now?)
“Nahi! Bilkul nahi! Kal batting nahi denge wo log!”
(No! Absolutely not! They won’t let me bat tomorrow!)
He takes a sharp left turn which cuts our conversation short. I grab the corners of my seat for support. Hundred inauspicious thoughts come into my mind. The three tire rickshaw is the most unstable structure for a vehicle. It can overturn, causing serious injury. I imagine the headline for the next day’s newspaper: “BOY DIES GRUESOMELY IN A RICKSHAW ACCIDENT.” Besides that I imagine my photograph with eyeballs dangling out of their sockets like broken yoyo’s and tongue twisted in a fashion that only Rajnikant can imagine.
I try to sport a brave expression and sit straight.
Moments ago, I grabbed 16 year old Ahmed Raza from the nearby locality to ferry me to my friends place. Short, squat and round faced, Ahmed was engrossed in a cricket match and was standing in the slips when he caught me waving at him like an air traffic controller giving clearance to an Airbus A320 to take off with a not-so-smart expression. Despite his best attempts to ignore me, he is coerced into giving me an audience by his other friends. I am literally playing a spoilsport. Love it.
“Gol chakkar tak chalega?”
(Will you ferry me till the round circle?)
“Nahi. Abhi khel raha hu.”
(No. I am playing right now.)
He stands there, with his hands on his hips, apparently exercising the wits of his couple of pounds of grey matter before asking:
(How much will you pay?)
“Chal theek hai 20”
He applies the brakes suddenly jerking me from the past into the present tense.
(Where should I drop you?)
“Whahan tak chhod de.”
(Drop me over there.)
I get down in front of my friend’s house. Today is Lohri and my friend has stacked up a lot of wood in front of his house.
“Tu toh marva hi deta.”
(You could have got us killed today.)
“Jaldi hai bhaiya. Shart lagi hai. Aj Pervez ki ball pe ek six toh marna hi hai.”
(I am in a hurry bhaiya. Have placed a bet. Have to hit a six on Pervez’s delivery today.)
“Theek hai. Le 20 rupay aur laga chakke chokay!”
(Okay. Take this 20 and go hit sixes and fours.)
He hurries off again.
Next morning I came to know that Ahmed broke Mrs.Nanda’s windowpane through his six. Although he won the bet, everybody ran away in the ensuing chaos when Mrs.Nanda came downstairs wielding her broom like Harry potter’s magic wand. There has been no word from Pervez since.
May peace be upon these kids.
Anshul Kumar Pandey
Anshul Kumar Pandey is a Ist year student pursuing his graduation in Political Science from Zakir Husain College, University of Delhi. He is also an avid blogger and has recently launched a project called “Company of Souls” which intends to capture the many facets of Delhi. His hobbies include Reading books, listening to Coldplay and traveling.You can reach him at [email protected], http://twitter.com/pandeyanshul or http://facebook.com/emailanshul.
Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/akeg/3614030998/]