Hungry eyes

A darshini in J.P.Nagar. Friday Evening. Around 8.30.

It was a long, tiring day. No mood to cook and no patience to wait at restaurants waiting for food. “Dinner at a darshini?”, asks my husband. Sounds good.

We ordered dinner, as in we paid for it and collected it from the counter. A young man is relishing his noodles. A couple is busy stuffing the kid with idli. The road is almost deserted – 9 is late in Bangalore. An empty table at the far end, almost touching the road. That will do.

As I am gulping down my meal, my eyes lock with another pair of hungry eyes. I look away embarrassed. The other pair continues to stare alternately at me and my plate. A tug at my heart, a wrench in my stomach and my mind made up itself to face the situation.

I walk up to the owner of those hungry eyes.

“What’s your name?”


“Do you know Kannada?”

He shakes his head.


Shakes again.

“Which language?”


“Kya khaoge?”

No answer. I can see he is embarassed, ashamed.

“Idli khaoge?”

His eyes light up. He is almost inaudible. “Bhel Puri.”

“Idhar hi ruko.”

After five minutes, the darshini-wala calls out, “One plate bhel puri.”

I look around to spot the eyes. They are no where to be seen.

Darshini-wala says, “Is this for that boy?”

I nod.

He and his colleagues start searching for that boy. He is hiding behind a car. They call him. He shakes his head.

One guy shows the parceled bhel puri to the boy. “This is for you”, he says.

The boy is still not sure. Reluctantly he comes to collect it. He collects the parcel, and walks out, not even once looking at me.

Darshini-wala says, “He comes here everyday. Some four-five times. He will come back again after some time.”

I ask myself, “Did I do the right thing?”


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