“Pull the truck to the side!” An old man, barely able to stand straight is waving to a truck driver who is engrossed in unloading his truck. Dressed in a white cotton kurta and dhoti he is restlessly murmuring something to himself. Pushing back his thick glasses he takes a breathes hard in anxiety. “You are blocking the road and customers are already here! You will cost me 100 Rs worth of sales!” The old man makes another attempt in his weak voice but since the driver can’t hear him from that distance. Failing at his attempt, he looks at his twelve years old grand-daughter who is holding a sackful of fresh dewy roses and looking at him for his next command. “Go beta, just ask this disrespectful man to move his truck before we loose our customers”.
It’s 4 am in India and Malad is as alive as any market in New York right now. A narrow street flooded with people who spend every morning in the glory and kitsch of flowers. The street has turned into a colourful carpet made out of freshly plucked and manhandled flowers. Full of salesmen and potential buyers, the street is noisier than any fish market. Making her way through the human sea, the girl reaches the driver and tells him what her baba has been asking for a bit now. The driver, a dark lanky guy sweating profusely looks swamped with getting his truck cleared as fast as he can. He looks at the girl and back at the old man in a haste. “Okay Okay, I am done anyway! Go tell your baba he won’t loose anything in 2 minutes” A bit irritated now, he hops back into his driver’s seat and turns his engine on. In less than a minute, the truck has managed to clear the path and has hit the road.
Relieved to have been of help to her grandfather, she makes her way back to him with a beaming smile. She spots him neatly assorting a booke of flowers into some blue buckets while attending to a herd of customers busy scanning-selecting flowers from his roadside arrangement. Her sisters are trying to be as useful as possible. Carrying the blue buckets in their arms, both of them well dressed in their salwar suit and neatly tied hair, help pull in some customers from the other side of the road. Feeling missing out from all the fun, she runs to her grandfather, grabs a bucket full of flowers and joins her sisters. Eager to get some customers she scans the street to find the right audience. “I think I’ll go ahead and sell to those people” Almost yelling into her sister’s ear she points at a set of people standing next to a competitors stall. Before she could hear what her sister had to say, she is sprinting away to her target. “20 for a bunch! 20 for a bunch!” She starts her propaganda, with hopeful eyes looking at the bypassing people. She realises her uncle is present with his family too at a nearby stall, he has his 3 years old son in his arms while he too is calling out for customers. They are a regular here too but few days back he was taken away by the cops as his stall stayed an hour more from the time allotted. “It must have cost them a lot” she thinks to herself and decides to go even ahead so her uncle can too get few customers today.
Just an hour more an then they’ll have to close the stall, she decided to make some sales immediately. She approaches a woman who is dressed like a Marigold and has a camera pointing at her. “Didi here, only for 20 Rs” Smiling at that strange lady, she offers a bunch of lotuses”. The woman looks at her and then at the flowers she is holding in her hand. They are beautiful white freshly plucked lotuses, she looks back at the girl and smiles. “Sure, give me a bunch” She quickly grabs her purse and pulls out a note “here! would you like to be in a picture with me?” The woman asks with soft eyes. Since it’s the woman takes her by surprise the girl freezes. She spots her sisters watching from a distance which immediately makes her uncomfortable. The woman notices her shifty shoulders and looks into her eyes “You are a beautiful girl! I’ll be lucky to have a picture with you”. The compliment makes her blush and with a shy smile she trying to look into the camera. The camera points, picture is taken and the woman is ready to leave. “What’s your name?” The strange woman asks. “Leela” She tries to be loud enough to be heard but is almost lost in the noisy street. While picking up her bag, the woman looks back at her “Thank you so much! I’ll always remember this Leela!” She smiles and bows in appreciation. Before the girl realises, the woman has walked ahead with her friends and is stormed by other sellers. She notices her sisters looking at her in anger, they are almost a feet away and are waiting for what Leela has to say. Leela chuckles and turns red but before she could play the memory again in her head, a few people have approached her to buy her flowers. Wiping that smile off, she contains her emotions and gets back to being a good salesmen. “10 minutes to make more sales…”
This feature is my dedication to her Leela who finds happiness in the smallest of the small thing. A picture with a stranger, helping her grandfather and in helping her uncle. She is my inspiration. To all Leelas out there, may god bless you with more happiness and the spirit to find joy in the smallest of the small things.
My Marigold dress by Naomi Code https://naomicode.com
Plum color top by Mango India
Choker by Forever21 India
Beautifully captured by Omiiee http://zengin.in