Dirty Hands

I had planned to wander around Chandni Chowk but the rains were coming down hard. I was already partly soaked from just crossing the street. I thought it best to head back to the New Delhi subway and back to the hotel. I sent Dempy a message on WhatsApp to see if she wanted anything. She asked me to pick up a snack and a Limca soda. As I made my way to the subway I stopped at one of the vendors selling soda and sandwiches, relieved that it was a covered section to save me from the oncoming downpour.  I grabbed a couple of bottles of pop and some bags of chips. As I was putting the items into my bag a young girl, no more than 4 or 5 came up beside me and pointed to the sandwiches behind the glass and looked up at me with soft brown eyes. Thinking about it now, she may have been wearing purple and flimsy flip flops but I am not certain. I can’t remember if she was wearing a dress or sari or anything else for that matter. I couldn’t tell you if her hair was pulled back or hanging down by her face. What I do remember was that she was so small and had dirty hands. I turned to the vendor and asked him for a sandwich for her and handed him the money. As soon as the sandwich was in my hand 2 young boys came running over and asked for items. For a second I thought to buy them something as well then thought it would attract more of a crowd and I’d be overwhelmed and suddenly change my mind.  To help her, to help this young girl was the one thing that I could do. I said to the boys “No. Just her…because she’s a girl”. Often girls can have it tougher, no matter where in the world they are. This one I could do something small for.  We stepped away from the vendor and I handed her the food and napkin. It was packaged in plastic. Her tiny fingers struggled with the plastic so I opened it for her, noticing how dirty her hands were. I wished for a wet nap or something to wipe them clean. I pulled out half of the sandwich and she smiled, took a bite and walked away into the crowd. I stood there for a moment before heading on my way. A man touched me on the shoulder and said “God bless you” and smiled. All I really remember are her dirty hands.

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