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ARU AMMA'S CHIKKIS
'Chikki le lo chikki...5 rupaye ki chikki', the old woman kept calling out in a frail voice. Not a single child paid attention to her tired calls, all of them buzzed around the icecream cart.
Aru amma had followed her routine that day also. She had been selling sweets outside this school for as many years as one could remember. With the passage of time, the small school had also succeeded in attracting a rich clientele, and acquired a posh airconditioned building, a plush canteen and a fleet of luxury AC buses.
What had not changed over the years was Aru amma's tiny sweet stall on the platform around the neem tree, witness to the transformation of many fortunes. A few snazzy shacks had sprung up nearby, offering fast food, ice creams, bakery, sundry gift items and what not, keeping in view the fast changing tastes of the globalized youngsters.
Amma had been finding it increasingly difficult to sustain her sales, she tried a few variations in her chikkis but failed to attract new customers highly influenced by western confectionary items.
She was roused from her reverie by a sudden commotion....oh, the police walas again! Wearily she started gathering her wares as quickly as her old limbs permitted.
'O amma, ter ku kitni baar mana kiyela idar nahi baithne ka, koi chikki-wikkie nahi bechne ka...fir tum kai ku magazmaari ke waste roj roj idar aa jata hai? Chalo hatao apna tokra!' The plump constable chided amma spraying paan stained saliva on the neem tree.
'Saheb, mai kidar jaayegi, sara jindgi to mai idar hi chikki bechti thi', amma pleaded with folded skinny hands.
'Nahi nahi, tumhara chikki kha ke bachcha log bimar padega, hamara jo naya saab aayela hai uska order hai kuchh bi khula khana nahi bechne ka...uthao apna saaman nahi to mai fek dega,' the burly constable growled and stepped towards her menacingly.
'Aru amma! Mujhe maaloom tha aap abhi bhi yahi hogi!' The constable's hand froze in mid-air on hearing a suave voice.
'Bade saheb, mer ku yaha se mat hatao, mera chikki kha ke koi bachcha bimar nahi padta, mai saalo se idarich bechti!' Amma did not seem to hear anything.
'Amma, mujhe pahchana nahi, mai Sooraj...aaj mujhe chikki nahi khilaogi?' The 'bada saab' bent to touch her feet, leaving the constable gape mouthed.
Sooraj Pratap Singh, an orphan, had been fortunate to receive the benevolence of a rich benefector and get admission in the new school. After school, most kids would flock to amma's stall but the shy teenager and a budding sportsperson would never even look at it. It was Amma who had restrained him one day, tenderly wiped the sweat off his broad forehead and forcefully put a piece of her chikki in his hesitant hands.
That moment had forged a new relationship between an orphan and a childless woman. Sooraj had flourished under the tender loving care of Aru Amma and soon proved his mettle as a promising sportsperson. Within a couple of years he was recommended for scholorship to the new Sports Academy in the state capital.
The day he left, amma bid him farewell with tear stained cheeks, but still pushed a box of chikkis in the equally emotional boy's hands.
'Mai jaldi bada aadmi ban ke wapas aayega Aru Amma, teri chikki khane ku, aur ter ku apne saath le jane ku,' he had promised.
He had come back...to fulfill his promise.
As they say, it is never too late between two loving hearts.