They were sweet warm people at the hotel. One morning I stepped out into the garden to find a red cheeked adorable 5 year old running across playing hide n seek with his mother,who worked as a maid in the hotel . As he ran past me ,I caught him and asked him his name. ''Aman'' came the prompt reply filled with gurgling laughter.''You go to school'' I asked to which he nodded in affirmation.''Which class '' ''1vth ''pat came his reply. Before I could say anything his mother came and corrected him saying ''junior k.g.madam''''he likes to feel grown up so he makes up the class. Aman was not happy with this revealation ,but could do nothing but hide into the folds of his mother's dress.
I would get to meet him off and on ,running, playing laughing. I simply loved his laughter. It was very infectious. One day on our return to the hotel, we found him playing cricket with a few children,most of them guests. A girl slightly older to him was on strike and my Aman was the fielder. I stood watching for some time. Suddenly I could see anger writ on Aman's face,,,on enquiring he muttered that how the girl was being unfair by not accepting to be out a number of times. Aman could not say much to the guest child. What could I do ...I started off for our room. My husband offered to join the team so stayed back. Suddenly there was a cry ...I turned back ....the batsman stood there with the broken handle of the bat and Aman was inconsolable. He ran away to his room ,sobbing.
I was very disturbed. Poor thing ...it was not even a proper bat. It was handmade from a piece of wood and that too was broken.My heart went out for Aman. I wanted a bat for him ...now. We were to go for a stroll to the market and I had made up my mind. Jhumi and my husband would stop to admire the various pretty things in the shops but my eyes were searching for a bat.Jhumi could make out that my mind was elsewhere. She asked me what was the matter. I then told them what I was looking for. Both of them immediately said then that is what we all should be looking for. We searched everywhere ,but to my utter dismay could not find a single toy shop. Disappointed we came back. Next morning we were leaving Leh for Delhi. I left some money with Aman's mother to buy him a bat ,and with that bit of disappointment we returned to Mumbai.
Suddenly one day Jhumi asked me if Istill wanted to send a bat for Aman. Her friend was to make a trip to Leh. I immediately said''yes yes''.Jhumi's friend was going from Bangalore. Very sweetly he bought a bat and a ball ,carried it all the way to Leh and delivered it to Aman's mother.I had called them up today and this is what she was thanking me for.
Aman is all over my heart. Playing Aman, doubling with laughter Aman, sprawled on the lobby chair immersed in watching Tom and Jerry Aman....now my heart is at peace imagining the look of joy on the little Aman's face on seeing the cricket bat and ball. I can erase the crying face of Aman happily from memory now.
May God always bless this sweet child ....Aman.