“How long do you expect me to believe your story, Yaswath?”
“Neeta, you are mature enough to understand the situation. I have just finished my degree. Times are bad”
“I have been waiting for too long. People are pestering at home. Every girl is getting married”
“Neeta, it will happen soon. Just trust me. Where are you?”
“It is none of your concern”. Click.
Neeta collapsed on the stone staircase that led to an open elevated stage. She felt the park seemed unknown and very strange even though she had been in the city for 13 years. She stared at the tree and let her thoughts wander. She didn’t even bother than her white salwar and light blue dupatta were picking dirt.
Somebody tapped her shoulder.
“Didi, want groundnuts?”, said a small boy with chubby face that assured baby fat and frail body. He stood with a tin can almost his size that also carried paper folded in cones and stacked at one corner.
“How much for one?”
“Just 5 rupees didi. How many do you want?”, he asked eagerly.
“I will give you 20 rupees. Sit down here”, Neeta pointed out to the empty place next to her.
“Didi..I ..have..work..”. He was completely surprised and more curious.
“I will buy all your stock today. Now, will you sit?”
It was a tempting offer that he didn’t want to let go off. He carefully placed the tin on the lower staircase and sat down. He kept giving side glances at her. She didn’t say anything.
“Are you one of those kind?”, he broke the silence.
“Which kind?”, she asked suddenly shaken by his question.
“You know..the ones who do stuff with kids…”, he glanced at her but concentrated on the pavement in front of him. “Raju chacha has warned us against people like that. I know you are not but just assuring myself.”
“No. I am not”, she grinned at him.
“Thank God you are smiling. Now, can I go?”, he placed his hand on the tin.
“Not until you have answered one question. How do you trust someone?”, she asked looking straight into his eye.
“Didi..I don’t know..”
“Then, sit down and think of an answer”, She pulled him down to sit.
The silence prevailed. He watched the group of older men and women doing some movements at the other end of the part. There were young girls giggling over a photo album. He saw a group of men working on setting up a stage.
“Didi, there is going to be a show staged today. They are selling the tickets at the counter. Do you want one? It will lighten your mood.
“How much is the ticket?”, she asked disinterested.
“Just 50 rupees per head”, he explained with wide open eyes.
She took out a 1000 rupee note and handed it to him. “Get two, one for yourself and me.”
“Thanks Didi. Will be back in a jiffy”. And he took to his heels.
Fifteen minutes later
“The..ticket..two. . the change”, he gasped for breathe and handed over the money.
“Good. Now, sit down”, she insisted again.
He scowled at her and sat down. The silence was killing. ‘What does she want? All these rich people are crazy. Who cares as long as she is buying my groundnuts’. He continued to stare at the people.
“Maybe this is how you trust people”, he exclaimed.
“What?”, she asked, quite confused.
“You gave me thousand rupees. It was sign of faith.I took the sign and got the tickets. I had my chances to get away with the money but I didn’t. You just have to give time and benefit of doubt. Everyone has the chance to cheat but what he does in a situation is what trust is all about.”, he explained half immersed in glory and self appreciation.
It struck her. Yaswath had his chances too. He has been in America for almost three years and it has not been a day that he has never called. He had always been there for her. Tears began to flow from her eyes. She looked at her hand and saw a very thin gold bracelet that Yaswath had gifted her during their college days. He had used all his internship money on that. The boy was still looking at her for her reply. This boy made her understand something she was unable to answer for months.She took the bracelet and handed over to him.
“What are you doing Didi??”, he asked in shock.
“Take it. You will never know the value of your words”, she said and began fiddling with numbers on the phone. She moved out of the place leaving him to silence again.
“Raju chacha, its me. Nitin. “
“What is it? Were you able to get something valuable?”
“Chacha,I spotted a lonely lady by the staircase with a gold chain “
“What happened then?”
“I could not do anything. I tried my best”
“You are so useless. Anyway, leave it. We will see tomorrow”.
He vowed to self that he wouldn’t steal again. There are good people in this world.