The garland girl (Short story)

“You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.”- Ratatouille

Manya highlighted the quote with her green highlighter. The green highlighter was gifted to her by the garland girl. Ok, let me tell you who is this garland girl.

There was a girl who used to sell garlands every morning below Manya’s apartment. She was around 12 years old. Out of sympathy, Manya always bought a garland from that girl when she drove out of the gate every morning. The girl stood near the apartment gate from 7-8 am in the morning. That was the time almost everyone in that building rushed to their respective offices. Most of the times people bought her garlands to decorate the photo of their favorite deity inside the car. Some retired uncles who came back from their morning walks, bought her garlands for impressing their wives. People had different reasons to buy, but the point is she managed to sell all the garlands by 8 am.

Everybody liked her pleasant gesture. She always smiled. That was the main reason everyone bought garlands from her. She captured everyone’s heart with her sweet smile. They called her garland girl.

It was heavily raining that day. Manya was surprised to see the garland girl standing at the gate as usual. She had an umbrella though. Manya opened the car door and called her in. She said it’s ok, but on Manya’s constant request the girl got inside.

“How many garlands do you have right now?”, asked Manya.

“I have 20 garlands didi.”

‘I will buy all of those.”, Manya just could not see her standing in the heavy rain.

“But why?” she questioned Manya instead of being happy. Manya didn’t expect that question. So now she had to give a reason to convince the little girl.

“Well, we have a pooja in our office. We need flowers.” She managed to find a random reason.

The garland girl didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t ask further questions. Manya bought all of them and had a sense of satisfaction. She felt happy for helping the girl.

Manya was out of town for a few days. It was day before yesterday, she resumed her daily routine. When she stopped her car to buy garland, the girl asked, “Where were you all these days didi? I wanted to gift you something.”

“Gift??? Why my dear?” Manya was surprised.

She took a packet from her bag and extended it to Manya. Manya felt awkward to take the gift. But she didn’t want to hurt the girl either.

“Didi, I know you helped me that day by buying all my garlands. I am really thankful to you for that. So I just thought to buy something for you.”

“Hey that is fine girl, you should not have spent money on these things.” Manya said with a tint of guilt. It was obvious that the girl sold garlands for the sake of financial needs. It made Manya feel uneasy that the girl has spent money for buying her something. But the next few words from the garland girl really touched her.

“I know you are feeling awkward to take a gift from me. You think I am poor right? It is not so. My elder brother manages to earn for basic needs of the house. My mother gives tiffin services in a construction site. This is a small contribution from my side because I love making garlands. When my father knew he won’t be living for long, he gave us an advice. “Do not ever live on anybody’s sympathy. Whatever work you know, earn something from that and live proudly.” So we are actually rich with self esteem. I will be happy if you accept my gift. This is nothing big. I always see you reading books in your balcony. So this a small book and a highlighter. I am pretty sure you will like it”

Manya had no words. She felt respect for the 12 year old girl whose has a matured mindset with so much of values. She felt privileged to accept the gift from the garland girl.

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