I was naked, so was he and so was she. It never made a difference, we were used to it. Those who walk past us always looked down at us like a piece of shit, literally and thoughtfully which again didn’t make a big difference. We don’t give a damn about those who judge us. There was one guy who stopped by with a backpack; he looked decent with costly shirt and trousers. He settled at a safer distance and took something outside, the other guy next to me identified it as a camera that he had seen already elsewhere. I saw the man fidgeting it for a long time, looked through it and pointed on us. I was terrified; I turned my back towards him and continued playing. There were a few crossing us; a few used a kerchief to cover their nostrils whereas a few used their thumb and forefinger. Again, it didn’t make a big difference to us, we were used to it.
I wanted to ensure that the guy left, so I turned back and was thrown aback when I saw him just inches away from me. He crouched and gave me something which looked like those chocolate wrappers I have seen around in this place. But I was only destined to smell and lick the wrappers so far, and this being my first time to touch, unwrap and taste it, I smiled. No, I grinned.
“Will you pose for me?” he asked.
“What?” I asked, chewing the chocolate wafers for the first time.
“Just keep playing, don’t bother to look at me,” he said.
He was around us for another 20 minutes, while a few more crossed with their saree’s Pallu or Salwar’s dupatta over their face to avoid inhaling the stink. Whenever I look at any of them, they avert eye contact, I wonder why. I find this place nice because I get to try something new, I can be myself with her and sometimes, I have got a good meal as well.
The kind man walked towards me again to give another chocolate wafer wrapped in a deep blue cover with zig-zag corners. This time, he gave one to all three of us, so the whole bar was for me and I didn’t have to share. I was amused!
In a few days, I saw our picture, all three of us. It was beautiful, blown rectangular and in a size I have never imagined. We three looked at each other to ensure it was us. I saw her smiling! I have made her laugh heartily but this was the first time that she smiled.
There were words written, in a language that I didn’t know. In fact, that’s when I realized I can’t read or write any language for that matter. I have never been to school, so was he and so was she.
My friend went near a warm old man who thought we were trying to ask for money and moved away. “We are the three in that board there, what’s written next to our photo?” he blurted. He stopped moving and turned to read those words. “It says about pollution and how kids get affected,” he said and walked a few steps away, indicating that he is not ready for any more questions. I walked back to my dirty puddle and threw the chocolate wafers there, which she picked up and looked at me with a smile.