A Tale of Two Children This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 6, 2012
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I was twelve years old, just young enough to mishandle the situation that was waiting to unfold but just old enough to comprehend the gist of it. We were to wait near the Bombay road in this ad-hoc tent, expecting to welcome the bride and groom as they enter the building. But they were late. Even worse, so were the rest of the guests. We waited. The lavish hotels, the abundance of outstanding food, and the endless luxury that awaited us at the reception could only be compromised by having to wait for the hosts. I didn’t originally mind the waiting all that much, but who knows, it’s every twelve-year-old’s job to in some way emulate his parents.

We slowly deteriorated from a calm, patient crowd of sophisticated wedding-goers to one anxiously quivering while putting on faces gushing with annoyance. My family sat with a select group considerate enough to come to the wedding on time underneath a red ornate Indian-made tent just outside the walls of the J. W. Marriott. The night sky over our heads expected the arrival of the hosts, namely the bride and groom, waiting to greet them into the hotel. Soon enough, I grew tired of listening to the distinct “woosh” of each car passing by. With the coming and going of each car, my hopefulness of the hosts’ arrival quickly vanished. I retreated to the function’s main tent to join my family, though each “woosh” still within earshot added to our discontent.

My family, which included my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, arrived first, found it appropriate to demand that the hotel workers get us some ice cream, some really exquisite ice cream. They soon arrived with a heaping crate full of these luscious little cartons of ice cream. One per person. We gathered around the crates to calmly and politely pass the time by entertaining ourselves with this new expensive treat. Soon enough, our stomachs signaled to us that they had reached the perfect combination, straddling the fine line between craving and satiation. Unfortunately, achieving this ideal state meant that quite a deal of ice cream would have to be disposed. As usual, none of us were perturbed by this harmless conclusion, and so we went back to waiting.

He was the first of them to arrive. He had seen the mini-procession of a few sophisticated looking partiers arriving at the gates of the Marriott Hotel. His gut assured him that this was his big break. In his rags and incomplete clothing, he hid himself behind the bushes, completely disregarding the “woosh” of the cars several feet away from him. He waited not with restlessness or annoyance, but with excitement. And he knew this was his chance. He knew it was coming; these wedding-goers would at some point order some food, and when they did, his little twelve-year-old stomach would be satisfied.

But I hear you ask. Ask how he, the beggar and the homeless child, could possibly get a chance at tasting some of this wedding function’s splendid food. But to him, this question was no question at all: He would wait for one of us nonsensical, wealthy people to discard some delicious, unfinished food. Despite the repulsive sanitary conditions that the boy refused to regard, he would pick this food out of the trashcan and happily feast upon any food he could find. In his mind, these generally unintelligent party guests were bound to leave some significant portion of food in disposed plates, bowls, glasses, and especially cartons. Fortunately for his literally starving body, I was the first of the stupid wealthy people.

Approaching the trash, I noticed his repulsive clothing and was confused. I saw his disheartening countenance and was empathetic. I distinguished my condition from his and was appalled, not at anyone in specific, but at everyone. We made eye contact—his cool austere gaze burned my skin. Senselessly, I allowed my half-full carton to drift to the bottom of the empty garbage can. He automatically took several steps towards me, grabbed the carton, and without hesitation, devoured the wonderful amount of ice cream I had abandoned. I watched in amazement. He looked elated. I was proud of my unexpectedly charitable act, but something didn’t feel right. I hardly thought twice about what had just happened; you understand, I was only twelve.

After he finished, we made eye contact again, but his expression had changed. He had gone from satisfied to desperate all over again. He knew I could I help. I could go ask my parents for help, but I already knew their response. So instead, I decided to simply bring the situation to my dad’s attention and glean what I could from his surely knowledgeable reaction. My dad is a wise man. I’d be a fool not to trust him. So I did just that. I walked over to my dad, explained the scenario, and asked him his thoughts on the unfortunate situation. But he told me that I had it all wrong. This kid wasn’t worth our valuable time or attention. He proceeded to dismiss both me and the boy, accusing us of being naive and ignorant. My dad returned to his rote, repetitive socializing. I, obviously trusting my father, followed suit. I walked away from the trashcan where the boy was ravaging another carton of ice cream. Valiantly and righteously, I ignored the boy. I was turning right into my father, just like I wanted. But for some reason, a tiny part of me still didn’t seem at rest; maybe, I thought, there was something more to the story.


I hope you understand, I was only twelve.





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