There is a small community of potters on Sohna Road. We pass them nearly every day and I finf myself wondering about their life every now and then. They live in tent-like structures. Charpais (single beds made of bamboo and coir weaving) lie in front of these shelters. Their wares are displayed on the floor right there and their entire lives are led right in front of a million people who pass by in an assortment of vehicles that range from jugaads (carts with a motor strapped onto it literally), tractors and bicycles to Audis, BMWs and Ferraris. No kidding! This row of squatter potters (I like the ring of that) is located strategically at an important junction. Policemen sit right there plaguing regular folks, buses stop there, people pedal their wares…it’s the regular desi mela. Through several rounds of digging to lay sewerage pipes and now the latest round to put the electric cables underground, this little row has somehow held onto their space.
Yesterday, as we drove by the nth time, I remembered Aadyaa had to take a small pot to school with her. Krishna is her absolute favorite person (that he doesn;t actually exist in flesh and blood completely eludes her; she has asked me many many times to take her to Dwarka to meet him and Balram and Yashoda maiyya!). There has been much activity at school building up to Krishna’s birthday (janmasthani) this Friday and decorating the pot of buttermilk is something she is looking forward to.
So there we were, choosing a matka (pot). The gypsy lady suggested a buy a slightly larger, better quality one and then I mentioned its for the kid to paint on in school. The lady’s face lit up. “Radha banogi kya?”, she asked Aadyaa. Will you be Radha, Krishna’s love? And Aadyaa nodded, smiling brightly. I loved the shared moment between these two. For that instant, the tremendous disparities between rich and poor, educated and illiterate, fortunate and unfortunate, secure and insecure, were eliminated as they shared a common joyful thought. I wondered at the spontaneity and simplicity that we see in children and in the poor, who despite all their troubles, have an attitude of forthrightness devoid of suspicion.
We were soon brought back to earth when an older lady sitting on the charpai interrupted with a request for Aadyaa’s old clothes for her granddaughter. The child’s mother is apparently in hospital with dengue fever, I was told in a by-the-way sort of tone, perhaps to put me in a sympathy mode. Still, I detected no whining in her tone, just a simple request made with a smiling face. I found myself saying I’d do my best and then, I called in the kids for a picture. Here they all are, smiling into the camera as if they had not a care in the world!