I was almost sure it was a dream when I took out from my purse a ten rupee note to give to the little girl and my husband asked me, “Are you sure you want to give her ten rupees”, somehow implying that I might settle for one or two of the one and two rupee coins I had fished out first. My husband is a kind man, if not one of the kindest men I have had the good fortune to know.
In real life, he would have been the one to suggest giving away ten rupees to a begging child. I said so to myself and to him I said, “I am sure. I am thinking of our son, of his little face.” So I put a strange looking ten rupee note into the grubby outstretched hand and suddenly there appeared, in the strange way things appear in dreams – one moment, not there, not anywhere, and the next, voilà, there it is – some food stalls, manned by -surprise! – people known to me.
So I looked at the small girl and asked her, “Do you want to eat something?” Her face lit up and she thrust the note back into my hand. “Buy me eggs with this.” Dim khabo, she said, amay dim kine dao. And I remember she pronounced it ‘din’, just the way my Rishi does. I gave the note back to her, saying, “You keep this, I’ll buy you boiled eggs.” I took her hand and walked to the stall selling boiled eggs.
And all of a sudden, there were no boiled eggs. I kept calling on people, people I have known for years, asking if they had eggs. No one even looked at me. I kept saying, “Two eggs, give us two eggs”. The last thing I remember is me asking that still hopeful mite of a girl, “Tui kota dim khabi” and her replying “Onek gulo khete parbo!” Her hope hadn’t dimmed even a bit!
I woke up. I was still married to a kind person, whose familiar face and my child’s innocent one welcomed me back into the relief of reality. That little beggar child in my dream never got her din (that spelling is totally intended, ‘din’ – as already mentioned – being dim in toddler speak). My heart ached. It was only a dream, but I still wished I could have pressed into her hands hot, boiled eggs, quite a few of them, and could see those wide eyes in her thin face light up again. I still feel that I have let someone down horribly, but I don’t know who it is. I wish someone could tell me.