I'm a Goan woman, working in Mumbai as the founder of a studio called Totem Creative. I try to make the world happier, safer and more meaningful. I believe education, knowledge and awareness, art, writing and creating Social Impact are my means to achieve that end.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Coconut Seller

9th November 2013

      I approached the coconut seller and asked, "how much for one?"
"30 for malai wala and 25 for paani wala"
"Patli malai wale ke liye kitna?"
"30 memsaab", he said.
       I asked for one with the thin malai. It was delicious. The first sip from the straw, and images of coconut trees and paddy fields flashed in my mind. Narrow roads and clear skies, palms swaying in the breeze - it cut back to the straw. The water was over. I looked inside the coconut, hoping for more water.

"Kahan se laate ho aap?" I asked.
"Mysore se. Yaha toh koi nikaalta nahin hai pedh se. Pakh jaate hain." he said.
"Aur aap kaha se ho?"
"Main Allahabad se" he said, smiling.
"Itni door se? Poori family yaha hai?"
"Haan ji. Ek flat tha, lekin usme jagaha nahin thi, toh hum bhaade pe reh rahe hain." he said, "aap kaha se ho?"
"Main Goa se hoon" I said. He smiled. "Toh aap bhi kitne door se ho!"
I chucked. "Allahabad jitni doori nahin hai" I smiled - "main yaha chaar saal padhi thi, ab job Nahik mein kar rahi hoon."

       He told me how his rent was ₹2000, and this was his only business. I contributed to his monthly salary by ₹30, and I felt like giving him some more. We spoke of the dangerously expensive economy. Me and my unbranded clothes, and my cheap shoes - I was so glad I wasn't wearing anything expensive. Of-course he was a mature man, but he probably would have judged that I came from a rich background had I had Levis written on my butt pocket.
       I've always been money-concious, its a trait that comes from my father. My friends often tell me to 'let go' and enjoy myself - but I consider my risky career decision of practicing art in India - and I never want to get used to an expensive lifestyle. Being a person who is so fond of design, good clothing and everything beautiful, I hestitate.
       As I listened to his narration of his wife, his two sons with all their demands. "I wish I had a daughter. It would have been nice. They are more mature and smart." he said. I was surprised by his open mindedness. He talked about their education which is ₹500 a month, I thought of how expensive it must all be. During my time, my ICSE education was ₹1000 per month. "It's expensive na?" I asked him.
"Is it?" he said, looking at me questioningly. I should have said no. It's education.
"Yes, considering mine was about the same."
       He spoke of how content he is with his job, "and if it's not enough to pay the rent, we'll see then." he said. "Aapki soch bahut achchi hain" I said.
       He had gentle brown eyes.He had a modest blue shirt, and he took my coconut and put it in his recycling bag. "Thank-you madam." he said, smiling. "Milte hain" I said.
We smiled and I was off. I thought about the donuts or the coffees I would have enjoyed for over ₹30. They are wonderful too, but this coconut was healthy - and when I drank the water, I thought of home - and for a few seconds, I was there. Those ₹30 for that experience would pay his rent and give his sons an education. I was so happy. He was happy, and the world has so much to learn from such beautiful individuals.
       I think of what I'm doing now. Am I happy? Why did I choose art? There are so many reasons. I want people to be human. I want them to feel pain, joy, anger - I want to change the growing insensitivity in the world. I wonder if any of that matters sometimes. Maybe I'd be happier selling coconuts.


shubhanshi mishra said...

so he happens to be from allahabad as well! a moment described beautifully. The man just became a catalyst between the coconut water sips and happiness. like many others. despite the ongoing immigrant and economy issues in our country.

Nikhita P. said...

Thanks shubi! Yup.

Uttara said...

Nikki keep writing. Reading this was thought provoking. Enjoyed reading this short story.

vrishi said...

Loved it.. :)

krithika said...

A small experience put across in a heartwarming way. Indeed gets you thinking about those beautiful individuals, that we tend to meet and the many more we miss out on:)

Deepak Prabhudesai said...

Very moving, written from the bottom of the heart. Maybe you could be a writer one day..