Shanmugam sat on the step of the temple tank seeking peace for his troubled mind. He had no job and was eating for the last few days the prasad whenever given in the temple. Despite the cool breeze from across the tank, he was restless and sweating. The noise of vendors, the chatter of devotees and the laughter of playful children around a carousal irked him. He was also feeling hungry but had no money.
He was startled when he felt a soft touch on his back and turned to see a girl of five years sobbing inconsolably. She could not tell where her parents were or where her house was. He could sense people were looking uneasily at him talking with a well-dressed girl but he had no mind to leave the girl stranded and vulnerable.
Before considering the option of leaving her at police outpost, he searched the pocket of the girl and luckily found a slip with address. The girl in the meanwhile tugged his shirt and showed the balloon vendor with colourful balloons. He searched his pockets to find no money to his dismay and then unrolled the sleeves of his torn shirt and found a crumpled five-rupee note to his joy. The girl started smiling in glee as she held the big pink balloon in her tiny hand.
Though the house was near, he thought it prudent, to take the child by auto to avoid skeptical glances. The driver after initial hesitation agreed when Shanmugam explained. The girl speedily ran into the arms of her anxious grandmother screaming “patti” and turned to say Ta-Ta with a beaming smile to Shanmugam who was watching her along with the driver from the gate. Evidently the parents were still tracing the child as they were not seen.
He had forgotten for a moment the auto driver looking at the happy reunion of the girl with her family and turned to see the driver waiting patiently. Shanmugam quietly unwrapped his only earthly possession and gave the wrist watch to the driver. The driver looked with disbelief at the man and declining the watch said “Get in.I have been watching you from the temple area and it is rare to see kind hearted people like you. I noticed you did not also ask the old woman any money for the efforts you had taken. Come on, you look hungry and let us have some tiffin in a hotel. Keep the watch with you. By the way, can you drive an auto? Otherwise, I can teach you in a week.”Shanmugam suddenly felt his heart light with no worries and the world a joyful place to live in.