December 13, 2005

Kind of a crowd

Interesting outing on Sunday evening.

Here's how it ends. I'm in a rickshaw with a small human being, waiting for someone on a lane in the suburbs. Ahead of us and across the road, a tiny puppy steps out into the road. Before I can say anything, a motorcycle and a van swerve around it. Too frightened to do anything sensible, it sinks to the ground.

Afraid it will be run over, I step out to move it. But then it seems to gather up some courage, for it gets up and scampers back to the safety of the gate of a nearby building.

A man and his two children are standing just inside the gate. They notice the puppy and start flinging water at it, laughing. As it cowers there, they start kicking what looks like pebbles at the puppy. Visibly flinching, the animal retreats under a truck. Man and kids are still laughing.

Then I reach them and ask, "why are you kicking stones at the puppy?" The man replies: "Do you mind taking a look, they are just shells!" Then he closes the gate and they disappear into their building.

Here's how the evening begins. Four of us, small human being included, go to a fair. It is organized by a well-known school nearby, as a fundraiser. It has rides, plenty of eats in great variety, large stage with glittering dancers, svelte MC in a dress cut to show curvy calves. Also milling cars, milling crowds.

We have to buy tickets to enter. As we stand in line for tickets, I feel a little tug at my elbow. Look down at a small boy. Gaptoothed, barefoot and wearing grimy clothes, he pleads with us to take him in to the fair. I try ignoring him. I try asking what he will do in there. Nothing deters him. Wearing his faint gap-toothed smile, he keeps on pleading.

We finally buy him a ticket. He tells us his name is Sunil.

At the entrance, a woman catches Sunil by the shoulders and turns him around to send him back outside. "Don't do that," we say. "He's with us and we have a ticket for him."

She turns to us and says, "But you can't take him in!"

"Why not?" we ask.

"We don't want that kind of crowd in here," she says.

"What kind of crowd is that?" we ask.

She doesn't reply, and turns away. We walk in.

Much later, Sunil says bye and leaves us. Walking barefoot away through the crowds, he suddenly turns. Flashes one more gaptoothed smile -- not so faint, now -- waves and we see his mouth forming words. "Thank you."

Made our day, little Sunil. Or at least, made our next 15 minutes until we saw a puppy walk out onto the road.


Perhaps related, read Leave me now. (A different version of that piece appeared in the Hindustan Times yesterday, December 12 2005, titled "Can't have that kind in here" (can't find link).


Anonymous said...

hmmm, the reasons for the lady saying 'we don't want his kind here' were, most likely, purely economic.
The rest of the paying public does not want somebody grimy rubbing shoulders and elbows with them.

And with 'dirty' some people might, subconciously, associate other unjustified undesirable characteristics to someone who looks like Sunil.
Certainly unjustified.
So it is all very well, that you bought Sunil a ticket and later had an all-american-movie moment, but methinks that what one should be striving for, metaphorically, is to arrange for the Sunils of the world to have a bath and get some clean clothes.
And uske liye, thoda Economics ka sochna padta hai. Chicken and Egg, eh?

- Z

zap said...

For me ttg, the story of the dog only inspires one question "Are you vegetarian, Dilip?". And if you are I will point to a good Roald Dahl short story.
Not that it'll make me smug though.

- Z

Anonymous said...

Which Roald Dahl story? Sorry but cannot recall a Roald Dahl story that comes close to this incident. Of course there are similar characters such as the puppy torturers in many of his stories. Please hurry and dont keep me waiting. Will rush and get the story.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Zap, I'm a strict non-vegetarian, but will you point me to the Dahl story anyway? Like Nikhil, I'm waiting and waiting for this. With bad breath ... err, bated breath.

TTG, if by "good-intentioned person" you mean me, well, I didn't ease my conscience. As for AGE, hey, don't let yours bother you too much!

Anonymous said...

Further to my earlier post:
Unlike Dilip and like Uma - I am a vegetarian.
Uma - That is the unfortunate part. Children will simply imbibe what is taught to them. I do not think the adult in question was dysfunctional. I have seen many normal people who think it a divine right to torture animals. I simply cannot fathom the reason though.

zap said...

The Sound Machine by Roald Dahl, where vegetables/plants feel pain. Also Samuel Butlers' Erewhon, where people fight to ban eating animals as well as vegetables.

zap said...

Dilip, this Comment Approval jazz is driving me nuts. Cuz I'm thinking you are sitting and approving/disapproving comments as they are made,while there is a match on ! And I'm posting stuff like this when the post lunch session has just begun and I have beer !!