A nippy morning in early December. The beach looks deserted but for a few morning walkers, sweating it out in their sports shoes and fancy workout gear.
The young vagrant is huddled beside his father, who in a drunken stupor has pulled the tattered blanket off the boy to cover himself and is now snoring like a congested horse. It isn’t his father’s snoring that keeps him awake, but the hunger pangs.
A faint thud startles him. He tightens a piece of cloth around his waist to subdue the rumblings of an empty stomach and walks over to a ledge, upon which, a jogger had briefly rested, a while ago, tying up his shoelaces. Something lay on it in the semi – darkness. A phone, an expensive looking one. The boy picks it up warily. The sleek, shiny thing feels good in his cold hands. Ramu kaka would be really interested in his find. He swipes a dirty finger across the screen and unlocks the phone. A pretty young girl blows kisses at him from its radiant screen. She’s a young vixen – dark hair, brown eyes and a pert little mouth. He smiles despite himself.There are more pictures of her in the phone. There is a sound of approaching footsteps. He stops ogling and shoves the phone into his tattered pants.
A couple of joggers dash past him without as much a glance in his direction. He sets off at a rapid pace towards the shanty nearby. Ramu kaka wouldn’t mind being woken up this early for a find as good as this. His steps falter as he takes the phone out and sees the girl again.
He is back on the ledge, sometime later, phone in hand. Waiting. A frantic young jogger arrives in search of his missing phone and is beyond relieved to have it back. A few thankful notes are thrust into the boy’s hand.
“Girfriend teri kaafi ‘hot’ hai..” The boy says with a wink, pocketing the notes. The comment earns him a hard box in his ears from his benefactor.
Back at his father’s side, the boy counts the notes. There is a smile on his face. He knows that he doesn’t need a phone to remember the girl’s face on a lonely night. The smile widens into a grin.
His father stirs and opens an eye, “What are you grinning at,boy?”
“How about some puri bhaji for naashta?” He asks, rubbing his smarting ears. It was going to be one of those better days.