Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Of giggly little girls

As I'm bending to drink water from clearer-than-clear springs , just having lunched on apricots, I realise I'm being watched by three eight-year-olds who can't stop giggling; they want to know my name.

I tell them. I forgot their names, almost as soon as I ask. They probably forgot mine.

We get talking - do you go to school? Do you learn mathematics? Where's the school? Do you get food? A mid-day meal? Yes?

One little girl is littler than the others - maybe six - and she's shuffling a pack of cards, which she clutches very tightly and looks slyly at, every few seconds, before erupting into a gaggle of giggles.

Finally, our curiosity gets the better of us and we ask to look at the cards.

The littlest girl holds the pack behind her back and shakes her head 'no'. She giggles. Everyone giggles.

Me and a journalist-friend exchange amused glances. We try to coax them to show us the cards.

The girls are clearly torn between wanting to hide their giggle-treasure, and wanting to show it off. They whisper - they shake their heads yes and no and they giggle.

I've almost given up, when, suddenly, the littlest holds out the cards - shyly, slyly.

The cards, it turns out, are not playing cards at all - no King of spades, no Queens of hearts. These are picture-cards of bikini-babes. The kind you'd see in a Playboy. Slim, seductively pouting, chests out-thrust... blondes and redheads wearing...well, their skins, more or less.

We ask where they found these. One girl begins to tell us that they were given the pictures... another hushes her and tells us they found them lying about... just lying in the grass.

We give back the pack of 'cards'... but all the way back to Dehradun, my friend and I argue about how they could have found those cards.

"Found, lying in the grass?"
"Possible."
"Handed over by a man?"
"More likely."
"Why?"

Long pause.

"But who would have bought such a pack - hardly anyone is educated; hardly anyone has access to hardly anything? Where would they buy such picture-cards?"
"It had to be a foreigner; the cards look foreign-made. Right out of Playboy."
"But this is a restricted area - no foreigners allowed. Must have been the men who leave the village for jobs in Delhi; they return, with all this city-made stuff... it's easy to buy, in Delhi."
"You think so?"
"Oh yeah... who else?"

Another pause.

"But would anyone give such little girls these cards?"
"Possible..."
"You think so?"
"I guess... they were saying something, before they stopped."

A long pause.

"They shouldn't... They're very little, these girls."
"I know... but the way they were giggling..."
"I know... maybe they just found them, lying the grass."
"Maybe."

We both shrug... it is easier to think of the beauty of coincidence, up here, where all is beautiful. Or almost all.
Maybe...

4 comments:

charu said...

oh my god... I hope, want to think these were innocent giggles of the little girls...

Yaaro said...

I guess this is very common in all parts of the world but it's such a dark subject that nobody wants to write about it or perhaps even talk about it. I am still wondering what the giggles meant. Scary.

Yaaro said...

I guess this is very common in all parts of the world but it's such a dark subject that nobody wants to write about it or perhaps even talk about it. I am still wondering what the giggles meant. Scary.

Ashish Gorde said...

This is VERY frightening... for the sake of those little girls I only hope they had picked those cards by accident and that no perv had actually given it to them... stuff like this makes one very angry with the world.

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