During one of my recent trips to SriKalahasti near Tirupati, we came out of the Temple that protects the Vayu Linga. The temple had small narrow streets through which we were passing when my eyes fell upon a small girl, perhaps 8 years old, holding a few books in her tiny hands and waving it to passersby. She obviously looked very poor in her old dress.
She showed it from person to person who came her way and waved it to them incessantly following the walking person and once she was confirmed the person would not be interested in it, she would move to the next person and woo them for them to buy one or more of those books.
As i came closer to her, my eyes was trying to find out what books they were. Suddenly, she spotted me looking at her books and she ran to me and pleaded in Tamil, "Anna (brother), buy this book, it is a nice book...." She put a set of the thin-paged books into my hands while i looked at them and found they were all Children's books, some coloring books, some books of rhyme that were meant for children of her age.
Not really happy that i couldn't buy them since they were for little children, i smiled and gave it back to her. "Rs.20/- only Anna. Please buy one. Just one..." She pleaded. I told her, "Little one, i can't use these books nor know anyone i can gift it to..." But she was determined and pleaded, "Please Anna, buy just one.."
As my mind was busy thinking what to do, she would use that time to look around to see if she could catch hold of anyone who looked interested in her books. By this time, i decided what to do and took out a twenty rupees note and offered it to her smilingly.
She looked so happy and showed her books, for me to select which i wanted. I told her, "It's really of no use to me, Ma." (Ma is the short form in Tamil for Amma, a word used for Mother and as well as for little girls with respect). Her happy face suddenly turned sour. She said, "I don't want alms. I am not begging." i was taken aback and immediately told her that i did not give it as alms. As i kept walking, she refused to let me go and walked in front of me insisting that i take a book.
i stopped and looked deep in her eyes and explained to her that i am not able to take the book because i cannot carry it to where i am going and that she can gift one book to someone she feels right. She didn't look convinced but in deep thoughts stepped aside so that i could go ahead and i began walking.
As i kept walking i turned around and saw that she stood still for a few seconds, as though trying to ponder over the whole thing and then again was back in her full enthusiasm as she continued approaching other people with the same ethical confidence in her voice and movement. In all my travels, i see how people try to hog more money in some or the other way and here was this little girl literally in rags who had such high integrity that she echoed in my mind for a long time until i decided to release her here!