As she was walked out of the airport she felt a mix of anxiety and joy. After all she was in India after 20 years. Her homeland, her own country where she was born. Her mind was filled with all sorts of thoughts.
She was born in India but when she was 5 years old, her parents decided to move to Australia. She was a professional photographer who had come to India to capture the life and scenic beauty of India. All she knew about India was based on the stories her parents used to tell her when she was young. It was hot and humid outside. She took a cab and reached her hotel. She was too tired to eat so she went to sleep.
It was six in the evening. She woke up with a mild headache. She went out and stood in the balcony of her room. It was still pretty hot outside and the roads were overcrowded with vehicles whose horns were blaring and the pedestrians. She went back inside, took a shower and got ready to explore her country that she had come back to, after 20 years.
She was starving by now so she went to a nearby restaurant. By the time she was done eating, it was 7:30. She had a backpack in which she had important documents, wallet and her camera. While taking out the wallet to pay the bill she saw her camera and realized she had work to do.
“Please buy a balloon. I will charge 30 bucks only”. She was walking down the street when she heard a voice behind her. She turned around and saw a girl who must be around 13 years old whose clothes were tattered and she was barefoot. The little girl begged her to buy a balloon. She said she had not eaten anything since 2 days and she really needed the money.
“But I don’t need a balloon. What will I do with a balloon, I’m not a kid”, replied the photographer. There was disappointment on her face. The photographer offered to give her money. The girl refused to take the money. She said, ” I’m not a beggar. I earn money by selling these balloons” and started walking. The photographer stopped the little girl and asked her, ” How well do you know this city?”. ” I know every nook and corner of this city”, replied the girl. “Okay, so here’s the deal, you can be my guide for 10 days and help me out and I will buy all these balloons and I will even pay you for being my guide for 10 days”, said the photographer. The little girl’s face was filled with ecstasy. She immediately accepted her offer.
They started walking down the street together and the little girl started explaining the photographer about the city.
” My name is Thalia. What’s yours?” asked the photographer.
“I don’t know my name but you can call me Bindiya. I like this name”, replied the little girl.
The photographer stopped and looked at the girl with surprise. ” How can you not have a name? Everyone has a name. What do your parents call you?”
The little girl replied with an innocent face,” I don’t have parents”.
The photographer felt sorry for her. ” So where’s your home? Do you live in an orphanage?”
The girl pointed out towards the street with a smile on her face, ” I live on the sidewalk. That’s my home”.
P.S.: India is the second most populous country of the world with the population of 1.3 billion people. This is more than a sixth of the world’s population. It’s been 70 years since we got independence. Still, more than 78 million people of our total population live in slums and tenements. More than 20% of our population is below poverty line. A lot of people including girls like Bindiya live on the sidewalks.