I had seen her on my way to the park. In the growing darkness she would sit along the roadside. And then when the street lamps would come to life, she would pack her polythene sheet into a bundle and go home. On a local train. With her green figs.
Figs, like berries...the greenest and the most wonderful I had seen. They were the colour of the dark leaves of the banyan. And fresh. Unscathed. I could not help thinking about them. She was beautiful too. And she sat with her figs everyday. You would imagine her to be just another vegetable seller. But I had seen her eyes. She sat there just like that. I had never seen anyone buy figs from her. There were occasional drunken brats that would pass lewd comments at her. She would calmly look down and ignore them.
I wanted to buy them figs from her. But I wasn't even sure if she wanted to sell them at all. I thought to myself-'what if she is just sitting there for nothing?' But I knew I had to buy the figs from her. I had been looking for them forever. Days went by.
I finally gathered enough courage to go up to her.
-Excuse me. But are these figs for selling?
-They are.(she did not look up)
It was all that I could ever ask for. I took out the biggest rupee-note that I had.
-Give me all of them, please.
She went on to put them in a packet for me. When she looked up and saw the note in my hand. Her face fell.
-But I don't have so much change on me sir.
-I don't need any change. You don't know how eagerly I have been looking for these all these years.
-You are over-paying sir. It would not be fair of me to accept so much in return of the handful of berries that I have to give you.
-Trust me, I am not. I cannot afford to pay you in cash the value these figs bear to me. Please give me the figs. I cannot give you any less.
-But what if you feel cheated later. What if you come back tomorrow to ask your money back?
-Why would I? Believe me Miss, I will be grateful all my life for these berries. Please.
-No. I can't.
And saying this, she packed her polythene into a bundle and started walking towards the Railway station. Like she did everyday. She went back home with her figs. Perhaps planning to come back one day to sell them to someone who paid her just the price she wanted. Just the worth she thoughts her berries were.
I started walking towards the park. The taste of the figs in my tongue.
P.S. Anuj D says:When the sun started to move around the earth, had it not any idea that the earth would fall in love with it; when the oceans started to wave up & down, had it not any idea that the water would fall in love with it; when the birds started to fly, had it not any idea that the sky would fall in love with it; when the breeze started to flow, had it not any idea that the beach would fall in love with it. When she was born had she not any idea that I will rise in love.