As a child, a toffee always left a nice sweet taste in my mouth, but when I bought her the toffee, there was something that troubled me.....Surabhi Kaushik
I stood at the edge of the road, facing Nandi stores, the regular provision store. As I pointed to the detergent pack I wanted to buy, my eyes searched for her. Where was she? It was more than a week since I saw her. Every day, when I returned from the park with my 3 year old daughter, Ria, we would see her. I guessed she was around 7 years old and I also knew she was my neighbour's maid's daughter. I was buying Ria her favorite toffee. As I watched Ria's eyes sparkle in excitement, I saw the girl watching us from a short distance. I bought another toffee of the same brand. I walked up to the girl and offered it to her. She hesitated for a split second but accepted it the very next. She flashed us a smile that was worth a million bucks. After that day, it became an everyday practice for me to buy her a toffee. And she was always there sitting on the pavement opposite the store. Her eyes told me a million stories. But I was not sure which one to believe. I asked her name but she did not reply. I asked her if she went to school, again no reply. Nevertheless, the toffee practice continued. Both of us were happy and looked forward to our sweet meeting.
Suddenly, one day she disappeared. I thought she will return soon, may have gone out of town with her mother. But I saw her mother at my neighbor's house. She did to come for the next 2 weeks. I still bought the toffee every day. I put them away in a box at home. I was sure she will come, tomorrow she will come. The next evening I saw her. Wait! was it her? My heart stopped for a moment but it was her indeed. The same innocent face, the beautiful toothy smile....she was wearing a blue skirt and white shirt. It was a school uniform. She came upto me and stretched her hand, "my toffee?"She asked. For the first time she spoke to me. I was beaming and my heart danced with joy. "would you like a bar of chocolate instead?"I asked. She giggled in anticipation.