Anaivari is a small but beautiful village.It has a tank brimming with lotus plants and flowers and the tank is surrounded by the shady banyan trees.
It was 0800 a.m.Maya, a three year old girl child sleeping in a thatched house woke up.She found that she was lying all alone in the bed.She could remember that her mother Anjalai caressed her and fed her with sweet milk rice yesterday night, while she was running here and there inside the house.She also remembered that her mother was on her right side and her father was on her left, when she was about to sleep in her bed.Now she wondered, where they had gone.
She was hungry.She even called out for her mother and father.But they were not found.She looked inside the house.She found at the bottom of a small pot, only a small quantity of cooked rice and water.She even had one or two morsels of rice, which was rather insipid without salt and it was not enough to satiate her hunger.
Now Maya reached the entrance.There was not any door but it was only a gate made of bamboo sticks and woven with coconut leaves.When she pulled the gate inside, she could find a small way to quit.She sneaked through the gap and came out of the house.Again she called for her mother and father, but they were not found.She did not know that her mother woke up very early in the morning and had gone to do some agricultural labor for a small wage.She did not know that her father went there and picked up a quarrel with her mother demanding money for quenching his thirst in the Tass mark shop at nearby Parugampattu village.Maya did not know that her father thrashed her mother since she refused to give him any money and having been beaten heavily, her mother had been to her sister’s house some fifty kms away.Her father’s whereabouts were also not known.
Having been left alone, Maya cried for sometime.But Maya was too hungry to cry.She looked around and walked slowly in the nearby street.She had walked some hundred meters and turned left.She could hear the laughter and conversations of the humanbeings from the nearby house.It was a big thatched house facing the east. She stood at the entrance of the house and hesitated for a while.She saw the family members of the house were having their morning meals.They were having liquid food made from bajra, using peeled onion, fried green chillies and lemon pickle etc, as side dish.
‘See, that girl Maya is standing at the entrance of our house.’
‘Don’t care about her.Let her stand there.She will stand for some time and then she will leave.’
On seeing them had their morning meals, Maya was more hungry now.But she did not ask for anything, but simply watched them and stood up there.
‘How can I eat anything, when a small child is watching us like this?’
‘Don’t worry about her.Just ignore her.She will leave very soon…. You just carry on. Hey, Maya, why are you standing here like a begger? Just go away..’
Maya was still starring at them.Being very young, she did not realise that it was shameful to stand like that.
‘Yeh Maya, come inside.Will you eat something?’ a grandma asked her.
Maya, hesitated for a while.Then she entered into the house.
‘Don’t allow her to have anything here.Then it will become a habit and she will come regularly.Give her something in a bowl and drive her away.’
Then the grandma, gave her a small bowl whose half portion was filled with the liquid food made of bajra.
No sooner did the grandma give her the bowl, than she ran towards her home as quickly as possible, holding the bowl in her hands.On the way she even sipped a bit from the bowl to have a taste of it and wiped her mouth.
When Maya reached her home with the bowl, she saw that her father was opening the gate and entered into her house.When she got inside the house, her father who was in an inebriated condition, shouted.
‘Hey Maya, what’s it? what ‘s in the bowl ?.. Ha.. Ha . it is liquid food made from bajra. gimme.. gimme it. I am sooo hungry…’In no time he grabbed the bowl from Maya and finished it in a single gulp.Then he fell flat on the ground and fell asleep.
Enraged at what her father was doing, Maya again grabbed the bowl from him and looked inside the bowl.On noticing that the bowl was empty, she threw the bowl far away.Then she fell on the ground,rolling all along and crying loudly and terribly.But very soon she got tired and fell asleep.Maya did not know how long she lay on the ground falling asleep.
Somebody woke her up, terribly shaking up her body.When Maya woke up, she found that it was twilight of the evening .She was pleased to note that her mother was holding her up in her arms with a bowl of curd rice in it.
‘Maya, wake up … wake up … my dear, have this curd rice…’ Maya now felt the delicacy of the food gliding along her throat.
‘My dear, I have come back all the way on the same day only for the sake of you.But for you I would have dumped this fellow long back.’
Maya became cheerful within minutes and kissed her mother with love and affection.