Humanity cannot survive without Love and this story is the perfect example that humanity is still alive.
Silence commanded her world. She was born to artist parents and was rightly named Neelima. For her, thoughts were as vast as the endless blue sky. She always had a smile on her face highlighted by her dimpled cheeks and almond brown eyes that reflected every thought in her mind.
Her parents owned a quaint little cottage on the outskirts of Pondicherry. Taught at home by her parents, she was most passionate about art and loved nature.
Paintings fascinated her and empowered her to let out her feelings and thoughts. As it was with color, she was enchanted with darkness as well.
One evening, when she was playing in the front veranda of her house, she could see the distant figure of the frail young man riding his bicycle. Within the moments… Ramu anna, the village postman arrived with a letter.
She called out to her mom, who was busy in the studio downstairs. Ramu handed the letter to the little girl. Addressed to her father, it was from the National Gallery of Modern art.
Later that night, Neelima came to know that they would be moving to a new city, Bangalore. Her father had received an offer to showcase his work at an exhibition and also take care of the museum.
They planned to shift to the city at the end of the month. They sent their belongings by truck and travelled by train to reach Bangalore. Having never been in such a huge metropolis before in the last 10 years, Neelima was fascinated by everything that she saw, moving lights that turned red when they stopped, countless hawkers that seemed to bang on the door with their array of products, huge trees that engulfed the well-kept roads, and comical people who seemed to be in a hurry all the time.
Once they had settled in their new home, Neelima got used to their routine. Her father would leave to the museum for work and her mother would teach her at home after that. She loved taking long walks with her mother at the park and going for grocery shopping on weekends. Neelima never understood movies. Her family would visit museums instead during the weekends and once in the month, they used to go to the famed Sunday market as well.
Neelima observed the assortment of people with all animated expressions on their face. Every time they visited the market, she would hold tight to her mother’s and father’s hand on either side.
They always visited the same string of shops. On Sunday, that is 18th of March was no different except that her dad took a little longer to decide whether he needed the yellow chrome or the virgin yellow shade of paint.
Neelima kept gesturing that she was hungry. She whined, restlessly moved around, clenching her stomach that she wanted to eat. It was Varalakshmi vratha pooja the next day and the market was more crowded than usual. As she was waiting for her dad, her eyes caught the gaze of a man selling cotton candy.
Abound with excitement, she squealed with delight and pointed at the bunch of packed rose cotton candy dangling down the wooden pole which the man carried. Her dad motioned her to wait before which the excited Neelima sailed into the crowd of people. She was carried away by men in lungis, women in cotton sarees that smelled of sweat, children who were staring with their mouths wide open and old men who puffed out smoke through their mouths.
Scared, her heartbeat galloping through her petite body, she let out continuous screams that made people look down and pity her. Neelima couldn’t understand even the most soulful people who were comforting her. After some time with a whole mob of people who gathered around the child, one woman with lovely eyes and a pale green sari took Neelima by her hand, knelt down and asked her.
This was when Neelima finally replied, she took one hand to her mouth and the other fist to her ear and made an action by touching both. Then she brought both her hands near her chest and interlocked it, patting her chest a couple of times. She pinched her fingers together and made an action of writing on the other hand. She brought her hands forward and took it back as if asking for something. She finally made a gesture and her forefingers rolled and her thumb straight up, thereby making it near her ear.
She gestured with her hands and all of this was done with tears streaming down her eyes. By now, the kind woman understood that she wanted a notebook so that she could write down a number for calling her parents.
Wincing slightly as she realized the child was special, the young woman dug up her bag for a pen and piece of paper as she held her tears back. With an unsteady hand, Neelima jotted the numbers down on the backside of a stained paper receipt. It seemed a long moment for Neelima as she saw the woman dial and keep the phone to her ears. There was a sudden hint of joy on the woman’s face, which made Neelima’s face brighten up a bit. The lady gestured to Neelima that her parents were coming.
Neelima’s eyes pored through space and searched the crowd for her parents. She stood transfixed the spot with the young woman holding her by her shoulder.
After a couple of minutes, her heart leaped with joy as her eyes fell on the most beautiful faces she had ever seen. Her parent came running towards her and hugged her tearing up with joy.
They thanked the woman who had patiently listened to their daughter. Before leaving, the woman gave a chocolate and kissed Neelima on the cheek praising her parents and the child.
Straight from the market, her father drove to Hassan bhai’s biryani shop, this time letting Neelima have some sweets and ice cream at the end. As they drove back home, Neelima fell asleep in the car; holding her mother’s hand as firmly as she could, for, she was never letting go again.
Humanity is what this world needs more. This lady made Neelima’s world more secure and won’t let this small child faith on love and humanity fade away from her.
Edited by Priyanka Sharma, Senior Editor, SOCM