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Conversation over vada pao

It was around 4 o’clock in the evening. Another long day of school was about to get over. The final bell was going to ring and Kunal (name changed) got into an ugly fight once again. It was hardly a surprise for me as that’s sadly happening way too frequently. 

He just wanted to beat the other kid black and blue, was really furious and I was just trying to hold him.. to protect him… to protect the other kid from him… That’s what I have tried to do in the last two years; to protect these little souls from the world around them. 

Kunal was shouting and screaming and trying to move away from my hold and get his hands once again on the other kid. The bell rang in between and the kids started to leave for their homes. But Kunal’s anger refused to leave him. He kept on shouting and abusing and only after 10 or 15 minutes of constant struggle he gave up… drained out of energy he lied down outside our classroom… and I sat by his side… pondering over what happened in the last few minutes… and what’s happening again and again in last few months… many thoughts running in my head… what am I doing… have I been doing enough… what’s going so horribly wrong… 

Meanwhile Kunal got up and sat silently by my side. He seemed to have calmed down and probably he was also thinking about what happened or may be he was just thinking of going back home; the place where his mother would come back from work late in the evening; his father has his own issues to sort and sometimes dealing with Kunal’s issues are not a priority; also his aunts don’t like him.

I tried having a conversation with him but he was just shut and ran away from me… and I ran behind him to the school gate… and finally got him there. I told him that I wanted to talk to him but he kept saying he needs to go back home otherwise his father would scold him. Only when I told him that I would personally drop him home, he agreed to wait back.

Chal kahin ghoomne chalte hain, kitne din se dhang se baat hi nahi hui hai“. Let’s go somewhere, we haven’t talked properly for so many days… I took out my activa, he sat behind me and off we went on the streets of Yerwada. 

We bought two vada paos from a stall and drove through the nearby highway. I parked my activa at a quiet place and we just sat on the footpath, eating our vada paos and glancing at the vehicles passing by. We didn’t talk about the fights or studies; he told me stories about his mama’s (uncle) place and ganpati puja and I talked about my hometown and durga puja.

Kunal loves telling stories. Whenever I met him, he always had something to talk about and I loved listening to him; but I felt in the last few weeks, those stories were also lost somewhere and he barely talked to me… and today after so many days, here we were… chattering and smiling and laughing over vada pao. 
We finished eating our vada paos and we rode back to the community, to Kunal’s home, I dropped him off there, assured his father that he was with me and not roaming on the streets and rode back to my place. 

I don’t know what was I able to teach Kunal, but I have definitely earned his friendship; a bond I cherish deeply and a bond which I would love to carry on. May be one day this friendship will make him think and guide him on the path to find his light.