MIDWAY : Transition period

There sat a boy with an emaciated face begging outside my house every day. He was always there, by the shutter of the old grocery shop just opposite, putting forward his begging bowl for the pedestrians to toss in some coins.

For some reason, I could not stop looking at him. Though he sat at the same place wearing the same threadbare clothes and showing his unwashed hands and feet, his sorry plight never failed to hold my attention.

Where must he have come from? Where were his parents if they were still alive? What does the poor chap have to look forward to? I wondered endlessly but could never come up with a satisfactory answer. One day, I decided that I had had enough. I had to talk to him for my turbulent mind would not be soothed otherwise. Summoning some courage, I ventured out. He was right there.

Tousled hair, face smeared with mucus and dust, he certainly didn’t make a good first impression. “What’s your name?” I asked, rather sheepishly. “Shankar” came his whispery reply. I could make out that he didn’t take to strangers barging into his comfort zone.

In time, I managed to dig up a lot of information from him. I learned that he was 12, a native of Rasuwa, and an orphan. He had come to Kathmandu in search of a job — any job — three months ago but had been unable to stay at any of the places he worked in. Then he had taken to loitering about Kathmandu streets, without any aim and destination in mind. He had settled on the pavement

beside the grocery store out of pure whim. The storekeeper tried to shoo him away many times, but before long, the boy would be back. Ultimately, the storekeeper gave up.

Interestingly, his fate reminded me of the dismal state of my country. A Third World country that often has to extend its hands to developed nations to fulfil her minimum needs. A nation as if lost and yet trying to find its identity. Forever being pushed about by her powerful friends. Its helplessness in the face of natural disasters.

In a transition period, and needing good guidance while none is forthcoming. Like the lost boy outside my house, it too needs some help to overcome its plight.