A Tomato God

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Golu during my very first meeting with him

All fairy tales have some amount of human reality. And sometimes real stories sound like fairy tales…

A few months ago, while I was walking towards my home after work, I saw a small group of 3 little boys picking up something from the diyas (earthen lamps) people had placed below a tree outside a temple while praying. My first thought was that perhaps they were setting them right to ensure that they burn properly. But my next thought was that little boys don’t care much about God and prayers and are generally more interested in playing boisterous games. Feeling rather curious, I walked up to them to take a closer look.

“What are you doing with these diyas?” I asked them.

“Sometimes they contain coins. People leave them here while praying and we pick them up.

With my curiosity quenched, I turned and continued walking towards my home, which was just a few yards away. At least, they were not stealing, I reasoned with myself. But I wondered why people didn’t just give the coins to people who need them instead of leaving them like this and making their hard lives much harder.

Last week, however, the same spot below the tree had a completely different look. A few new idols stood there on a lovely, brightly embroidered rectangular table cover.  The diyas too were much more in number and seemed to be burning much more brightly than ever before.  One more thing was different. There were no sweets, which was rather unusual, because Indian Gods are normally offered only sweets. Well, that day, a little priest had given them a little, bright red tomato! It looked quite cute and I was quite impressed. I couldn’t resist the temptation of clicking some photos.

I was suddenly startled by a squeal of delight. I turned around. It was one of those three boys I had noticed a few months ago.

“Where have these idols come from?”

“I brought them.”

“And what about these new diyas, the tablecloth, and the tomato?”

“I bought the tablecloth for thirty rupees and the other things I brought from home.”

“This looks very good.”

The boy smiled. I looked closely at his face. He looked happy and innocent with his big, black eyes.

“Do you live here? What is your house number?

“We don’t have any house. We stay in the park over there.”

I was quite taken aback with his answer and I pursued further.

“Where are your Mummy and Papa?”

“They are over there below the Metro Bridge. Sometimes we sleep here in the park and sometimes below the bridge.”

“Oh, my God, that’s rather sad. But where have you come from? You must have had some home before coming here.”

“Yes, we did. We have come from Haryana.”

“Don’t you go to school?”

“No.”

“What about food? What do you eat?”

“Someone comes to the bridge everyday and gives us food. That’s how we manage.”

“What’s your name?”

“Golu.”

His matter-of-fact way of talking made my eyes moist and I wondered why God makes little, helpless children face uncertain lives like these.  I hope and pray that this child has a better future ahead…

Here are some more pics…

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