The kids in our locality have developed a liking to our house because they believe they are free to do anything at our place. One of them even mentions the USP of our house to her friend as a place where there is lots of ಕಲ್ಲು and ಮಣ್ಣು (stones and soil) to play. So, I am not surprised when they voluntarily come and lend a hand in the garden. The girls carefully water the plants while the boys enjoy playing with tools.
However, what I witnessed today was funny and touching at the same time. I regularly pick up cow dung from the streets and occasionally some dry leaves as well, for our compost. Our locality has many Neem trees and one such tree was chopped partially leaving a lot of leaves on the side walks. As I picked up the dried leaves, many people glanced, smiled, asked questions and went away. But, three little 8 or 9 yr old girls (from migrant laborer families) stood there, wondering whether to talk to me or not. They just couldn't take it that a person from a 'well-off' family was 'sweeping the street' as they perceived it. The most proactive of them finally came to me and asked me "Aren't you from the brick house"? I said yes. She continued. "Why are you doing this? You will become dark." I told her that I have always been dark. She argued "No, I have seen you before, you were not like this. You don't do this. I will do it for you." I smiled and let her help me. We talked about her studies for sometime and how much she likes studying and going to school. Then she made me another offer, again to prevent me from becoming dark. She wanted to wash utensils and clean our house, after she comes back from school, as she does in another house. I told her we do our own work and if she really wants to help, she can help me in the garden. And I told her I will help with her studies. Then she asked me in a small voice if I would charge tuition fees.
She also told me that they hoisted a flag in school for Republic Day which is why today was a holiday for them. I hope she studies well and doesn't have to wash dishes forever.