The first time I noticed them, they were sleeping on a cot by the roadside. It was a moderately chilly winter night; I was on the last leg of my late evening walk. They had lit a gas lamp and left it on (probably for warmth) and were huddled under a couple of thick blankets. Sensing my presence, one of them opened their eyes and looked at me with fear in his eyes. Realizing that they probably are not used to curious people like me, I beat a hasty exit.
The next evening, as it was a Saturday, my walk ended early. When I walked past that spot, they were busy trying to put together a meal using a woodstove, laughing out loud at some joke.
The next day, I started off quite early for my walk and needless to say, reached the spot much earlier than both the previous days. They were sitting next to a huge mound of tender coconuts and juicy looking watermelons. “Oh!” I thought, “They are street-side vendors”. After inquiring politely about the price and apologizing (that though I would have loved to buy them, I did not have any money), I started walking back home.
I was just about to go through the gates of my colony, when the sound of hurried foot-steps made me stop and turn around. One of the boys at the coconut shop was running after me, with a water melon and a couple of coconuts in his arms. “Who are they for”, I shouted out. “They are for you” was the reply. He slowed down, strolled over to me, handed the packs over to me and started running away. “Don’t you need the money?” I asked - a little surprised. “You can give it tomorrow when you come down for your walk” he replied and made a sound that sounded like “chic” – which probably could have meant “we know you will work some way out to pay us” or “we do not care” or anything in that manner.
I did pay them the next day and I did become one of their regular buyers and probably a friend. That’s beside the point, but I did learn a real valuable lesson that day
"Life can be simple if we choose it to be so".