Amrutha Joseph was returning home after buying some grocery. She bought daily for three reasons; one she cannot carry heavy load and another she liked to buy fresh stuff. The third one was she combined her walk with this daily ritual.A smart lady in her 50s she lived alone.
As she was walking leisurely this afternoon from the store, a boy of nine dashed against her. She lost her balance and was about to fall down but managed to regain her posture. The boy who dashed snatched her bag in the melee but alert as Amrutha was, she caught hold of the fleeing boy by his collar. Unable to get free, the boy started crying and pleaded for mercy. Clad in a dirty short and torn shirt that was too big for him with hair that has never seen a cut, he was dirty. She asked him why he snatched.
“My mom and sister haven’t eaten for two days. They are starving. I could not bear to see them die of starvation. I am sorry. What I did was wrong. This is the first time I erred” the boy said amidst sobs.
Meanwhile a few passersby crowded around her and asked what happened and whether the boy did some mischief. She denied and said the boy is known to him. She then dragged the unwilling boy to her home. Once home she asked him to have a wash from the tap in the backyard. She then gave sumptuously whatever was made for lunch.
“You said your mom and sister are starving for two days. Why cannot they work? You also do not appear to be starving from the way you snatched and tried to pull away from my grip. How come?” she asked?
“True they are starving. Mom is sick and sister is younger to me. I come to the roadside stalls and compete with dogs when the customers throw biscuits or bun. They take pity on me and buy some refreshment or give the left over. It is wrong but I cannot bear hunger” he said.
“Okay from tomorrow you come early morning and help me. I will put you in a school. I will give some money too each month for the help you do. You can go home at 6pm daily. You can go now” she said.
Amrutha was happy that she can save the boy from turning a wastrel and a criminal. The boy came sharp at 7am and started helping her in the chores. She had a barber cut his hair and gave him new clothes to wear. She got him admitted in a school nearby. Everything seemed to go well.
On the third day she found some people shouting outside her door. There was a police constable. He asked Amrutha deferentially, this woman has complained that you have kept her son forcibly in confinement and not allowing him to go home.
She got angry and said “What crap is this? The boy leaves for home at 6pm after his supper. Ask him”
When the boy was asked, he said “I am not going home. I leave this house at 6pm and sleep in the market place.”
“Why didn’t you go home as you were told? You never told me the truth. Have you started your old ways again?”Amrutha asked the boy.
“No, ma’m.If I go to home, I will be turned to picking others pockets, stealing or snatching bags as I cannot bear seeing them in hunger. But I have promised you that I would not go back to old ways. That is why I am not going home. I hope when you give me money each month that should help keep their hunger away.I would then go” the boy said amidst sobs.
Amrutha Joseph said ‘You are such a sweet boy. I will give you your wages in advance. Give it to your mom and you also go home along with them.” She was never happier than this day seeing the smile in the boy’s and his mother’s faces.
The church bell rang then loudly as if to say "Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."