It was a warm summer. I was enjoying my lazy evening stroll in the apartment lane watching the kids playing in the small park that was inside the apartment space. Seeing the kids play, took me back to a certain memory which I constantly revisited. It was a recurring memory and I did nothing to brush it away or embrace it. I just acknowledged it and maybe that is why I have been able to recollect it so well.
I met her in a bigger park which used to be here instead of the apartments a couple of years ago. One might say it was the only park of the small town where I grew up. I used to haunt the park even after growing up since it offered a sort of tranquility that no other place in the busy town did. She seemed like she was around 6 or 7 years old. She seemed to be alone except for the smaller kid with her, maybe her little brother. I remember wondering where the parents have gone to, leaving the little ones to attend to themselves.
She never spoke one word in the entire time I was there. I tried to ask her name and her kid brother’s name. I offered them chocolates. The little boy had desire in his eyes but did not reach out. He simply looked at his sister and back to me and then went off to playing on the swings. As for her, she simply looked at me doing nothing else. There was such a quality around those kids that my curiosity could not be controlled. I tried to ask her where her parents were. She turned her eyes away from me but before she did, I caught a glimpse of pain in those soft brown eyes. I was taken aback by the intensity of it. It was then that I wondered if I had touched a raw nerve. A sudden wail brought her attention back to the park. Her brother had fallen down while trying to climb the swing and had hurt himself. I immediately rushed to his side but she outran me. She picked her brother up and checked if he was bleeding. She soothed him by running her hands through his hair. As if on cue, he stopped crying though sobbing slightly. She looked at her bro and then back at me and the chocolates in my hand. As she held her tiny hand out, I could see her cheeks going red in embarrassment. I handed the chocolates to her and sat beside the kids. On the sight of the chocolates, the little boy’s face broke into a wide grin. Her eyes changed from embarrassed to grateful.
I asked her where she lived. She pointed at the temple opposite to the park. It was then that the possibility that her parents might have abandoned her and her bro struck me, though I could not imagine for the life of me why or how. The sun started to sink behind the clouds. She picked her bro up and waved good-bye to me and started for the temple. Curiosity got the better of me and I followed her. She noticed it but didn’t tell anything. I even hoped against hope that she could be the daughter of the temple’s pundit or something like that. There was none in the temple except for the elderly pundit. The girl started picking up the flowers that had fallen on the floor from the gulmohar tree standing above the temple while little boy held the basket.
I went over to the pundit and asked about the kids. He smiled and said, “They are god’s children. The little girl’s name is Aavaaz and the little boy’s name is Aakaash. They were abandoned at the entrance of this very temple by people and for reasons unknown. I named them and have taken care of them till now. The girl has taken care of the little one as her own brother ever since. One little thing to add here, the girl is dumb and the boy is deaf. Maybe that’s why they were abandoned. I named her so that at least her name has the sound and I named him so that he could rule the skies at least in his name.’ Saying so, the pundit sighed and left a dumbstruck me to ponder over while he went and started the chores for the evening pooja.
I was jostled back to the present when I heard the evening bell of the temple. My small town had grown so much. The apartments stood where the park was and we had to make do with the smaller park inside the apartment space now. Thank god, at least the temple still stood there in all grandeur. I quickly offered a prayer and took the prasad and went home. My mom opened the door and I asked ‘Where are they?’ As if to answer my question, they came running to me. I gave the prasad to them and kissed them - Aavaaz and Aakaash.
The silence of her voice and the fear that his mind is unreachable were probably what drove their parents away. But they were the same reasons which drew me to them. I was loud enough to reach their minds and their minds were loud enough to reach mine. That was all that mattered.
This is a suddenly inspired piece of fiction but I cannot totally say that this cannot happen in reality. Such things still happen all over the world and I dedicate this piece to the differently-abled.