‘These are beautiful flowers didi, very fresh, offer to the devi-she will make you engineer didi. Please buy them didi ( “Sister” in Hindi). I may have very conveniently ignored her feeble voice at first go but the word engineer rang a bell in my mind. I looked at the tiny little girl standing in front of me with a basket bigger than her own size. There were beautiful garlands of marigold and few loose marigold and roses. I was waiting to get an autorickshaw at Laxminarayan road. She repeated the sentence like a pesky alarm clock which had made my life a turnaround hell. I looked at my watch and realized I was very late for my coaching class. ‘Didi please buy some flowers didi–devi will help you in your MBA didi’- she spoke again in her feeble voice-a voice so thin that it could even cut through my ear drums. I was about to tell her to go away when I realized the sound of MBA with a slight delay. I asked her how did she knew I was trying to do MBA. She smiled and I saw her teeth- two of them widely breached in between. She giggled and said -‘all the students who come to the temple either ask for success in Engineering exam or MBA exam, they pray a lot near the idols and I heard them saying it‘.
I was obviously very late for my coaching class so I thought of buying garland and offering to the idol. I asked her name. She giggled and said- ‘Dolly’. Her enthusiasm was reflecting brighter than the soil on her torn frock and larger than her small frame. She quickly took the five rupee coin and kept it safely inside her basket. She took a piece of newspaper and quickly rolled a garland with white twine. I secretly wished if I could solve the data interpretation questions with the speed with which she tied the twine around the paper. I went inside the temple and actually prayed for my success in the CAT examination.
She was talking to another young boy when I came out. She was saying with great prominence that her garlands were a proved key to success in the Devi maa temple. The boy nodded and immediately gave her a ten rupee note.
I went to her and asked her why is she not attending school. She looked at me and answered in her same feeble voice- ‘Baba got his leg amputated in the factory……how can I go to the school..who will feed my little brother?‘. I was about to ask her another question when she spotted another young girl and yelled- ‘Aye didi‘. She went to her and came back with ten rupees.
Before I could talk to her anymore I saw Dolly walking to an old man and saying -‘Baba buy garlands for devi – your children will take care of you’.
I wasn’t interested in her sad little story or her struggle for survival. I wasn’t feeling any pity also. I was sure of her because I knew she was an MBA with specialization in life. Her marketing concepts were far clearer than mine. She knew advertising and knew her target audience very well. Her positioning strategy was clear and she was already an expert in Consumer Behavior. And here I was standing wondering over fate of even getting an admission in a reputed institute. I looked at the remaining flower petals which Pujari ji had given me and thought- may be I still have a chance!