The sun had begun to set on the horizon. Chanda’s frail arms could no longer carry the weight of Bablu. Cold and tired, she put him down on the cobbled pavement. The old mansion looked deserted. Chanda and her brothers huddled together to keep warm.
At night though, hunger came again. She watched helplessly as the deserted street filled up with life. Titillating aromas wafted through the air. Kebabs, parothas, tangy chutneys, all inviting her to a feast she could never afford. She turned her glance to her brothers. Their hungry eyes were dazzled. Apologetically she caressed their hair. Chanda knew that she would have to let them down once again.
She had not made a penny in more than two weeks and until now her brothers were surviving on the leftovers from the restaurant. Today however, the restaurant was closed. Bablu and Munna looked on, as the other kids gobbled up their share of food too. Silently, Chanda prayed for one of the hawkers to throw a loaf at them, but her experiences had taught her that sometimes God too only listened to the over-fed.
Her eyes asked again, “Why hadn’t Sanju come yet?”
He had promised he would take her away to abundance where Bablu and Munna would have clothes instead of tatters, and food instead of garbage leftovers.
The long night slumbered along with its misery. Sanju had not showed up.
Chanda picked up her box and looked at the morning bread being sold. She took out her magic cloth and offered it to the bread-wala.
He bartered stingily, “One laadi of bread and not a crumb more.”
Chanda grabbed the loaf and ran towards the hungry mouths. As they devoured the remains of her dream, she wondered what a piece of her heart would be worth to the world.
Insia Dariwala is a graduate from F.I.T New York (Advertising and Mass communications), loves to tell stories and is a filmmaker. ‘The Candy Man’ (www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSr0ne-iizs) her hard hitting debut film on child abuse won her two ‘Best Director’ awards in India (2009, 2010) and also got nominated at Barcelona International Film Festival and the New York Short film Festival in 2010.