Arunima was hurrying to work that day. She had taken half the day off from work as she had been quite unwell the previous day. Now she had to reach school before the recess time was over.
‘Mumbai is so different from Kolkata’, sighed Arunima to herself, applying the brakes of her car, as the traffic light turned red. She was blessed enough to find this job just a month after shifting to Mumbai. But, the hustle and bustle of the tinseltown soon started wearing her off.
As she was going over the events of the last few months, she thanked God to have gifted Arnab as her husband. His transfer orders came suddenly and they had only a week’s time to pack up and leave. Arunima had never been to any city outside her home state before. Though she was a smart young woman of the day, she was quite apprehensive. Afterall, so much is heard about big cities being unsafe. Moreover, she would be so far from her family, friends and the surroundings in which she had spent her life till then. But, Arnab had been so very supportive in preparing her to embrace the change.
A faint smile spread across her lips as she remembered how loving Arnab was. It was then, just then, that her eyes caught this thin young boy moving from car to car with a few bunches of red roses, apparently trying to sell them. Immediately her friend’s words came to her mind – “Don’t entertain any strangers and don’t get swayed by any seemingly poor person in Mumbai. There are big rackets operating there. They know how to identify gullible people like you.”
As the boy approached her car, she quickly raised the glasses of her car window. The boy knocked for sometime on the window, trying to draw her attention. But, Arunima didn’t even look in that direction. After a few seconds, the lad turned away and walked to the car next to hers.
Arunima gazed at the boy’s retreating figure without any emotion. Just then the traffic light turned green and she sped away to her workplace without a second thought.
The next day, Arunima saw the boy again at the same traffic junction – the same red and blue chequered shirt and loose black trousers with bunches of red roses in his hands. The way he was approaching the people stuck in traffic was so different. Arunima observed from a distance, that the boy didn’t make a pitiable face. His demeanour was one of confidence, yet with a child-like innocence writ on his face.
He approached Arunima’s car. Today, she did not raise the glasses. ‘Ma’am would you like a bunch of roses for any loved one?’, the boy asked in chaste Marathi. Arunima had started picking up the nuances of the language of the city, a little. She looked at the boy and shook her head. Her eyes met his innocent eyes for a minute as he smiled understandingly and turned away.
That day, Arunima couldn’t take the boy out of her mind. Those innocent eyes, that dry smile pounded her heart.
Each day as Arunima left home for work, she would have the boy in her mind, hoping in her heart that he would be there at that traffic point. Even though she had not yet bought flowers from him and shook her head each day when he approached her car, the sight of him somewhat relieved her.
She grew curious about the boy with each passing day and thought of discussing with Arnab.