Bindiya was a happy girl today. She was wearing a shimmering new dress given to her by her godmother. It had beads; small mirrors stitched onto it, and had been bought from the roadside vendor who sits in the main bazaar. To top it all it was a gift of her own choice. Her godmother Rashmi had taken her in her car to the bazaar and said, 'Ok Bindiya, choose. Whatever dresses you like just go ahead and pick it up.'
She had ransacked the whole shop, looking for something attractive and suitable. Actually she liked everything, but she was faced with a choice. It was the first time she had been asked to choose something she wanted. It had never been like this before.
She remembered her childhood. She was the third child in the family of five children. Her mother was a poor laborer who worked at the nearby construction site along with her father. She was very tiny and had to be carried to the site and was made to lie down in a pile of clothes near the manager's chair.
Her mother and father both used to toil hard in the hot blazing sun from morning to evening carrying bricks and mortar from one place to another. Bindiya would keep lying in a corner staring up at the sky, kicking her weak and frail legs in the air and wondering when her mother would come to her and feed her some milk.
She remembered one day how her mother was working and this kind lady Rashmi who was passing by in her car just stopped her limousine near the construction site and simply stood gazing down at her. Something transpired between them. An unseen bond developed between the two and Rashmi immediately sent for some milk for Bindiya.
After that day everyday without fail the limousine would draw up in the evening and Rashmi would bring in some milk and other goodies for her.
Her mother moved on from one construction site to another and Rashmi too moved with them. Her behavior towards all of them was like family. Bindiya too now looked forward to Rashmi's visits as she was extremely kind and supportive. She told her stories which she had never heard before and always brought her some gift or the other.
Time flew by, and Bindiya turned five. It was then that Rashmi suggested schooling for her. Her mother was reluctant in the beginning.
'Where will we get the money to educate her Ma'am, we barely have enough to feed the family?' she pleaded with Rashmi. But Rashmi was having none of that. She prevailed upon her parents' to allow Bindiya to join school.
'You don't have to worry about her expenses. I'll pay for everything. You just let her join. Give her the permission. As parents you have to sign on the admission form' she cajoled them.
Finally the parents gave in and Bindiya was in school. She was a bright student and slowly but steadily climbed up the ladder of her school education and before long she was in her 10th grade. Her exams were held and believe it or not Bindiya topped the class results. Rashmi was ecstatic and wanted to reward her for the hard work she had put in.
However she wanted a proper surprise party for her where her parents, her friends, everybody could come and join in to celebrate her success. Then only her success story could really be celebrated.
The dress was a precursor for this grand event. She tried it on and ultimately selected this shimmering dress which gave her an angelic look. She was now truly ready for her success party.
Just then the doorbell rang and her parents were standing there.
'Oh Bindiya you look so beautiful darling' gushed her mother. Who could have thought that Bindiya's life would change so dramatically with the entry of Rashmi in her life. God had indeed been kind to her, she thought. From being a poor laborer's daughter she could now stand up on her two feet and tell the whole world proudly that she had achieved something in life. She could educate her whole family she felt.
The doorbell rang again and her class friends started trooping in slowly one by one with gifts in their hands.
Bindiya was truly happy now. She acknowledged the greetings of her class friends and introduced her parents to all of them. She was not ashamed of her life or her parents, or of who they were. She was neither hesitant to tell her friends of her simple humble background. She was just proud that God had given her the opportunity in life to rise, to prove herself.
She sat around with her friends to celebrate her new found success while her parents watched all this from a distance and felt happy for her, their daughter Bindiya. Their faces kept glowing seeing her chatter away with her friends confidently. Their was a new found respect for her in their eyes as well as satisfaction.
There was one more person who watched all of this from a distance and felt happy and satisfied; that was Rashmi. As she watched all this, she immediately knew this was the biggest gift God could have given her. Her single most effort had borne fruit.
Rashmi could only smile, sit back and reflect happily on her foresight and initiative.
This was 'God's Gift' to her
.......................................End of story 'The Gift'......................