The mall was crowded- buzzing with youngsters’ hanging out; families doing some serious shopping, couples spending time together, bawling babies at one end, excited teenagers at the other. Somewhere in the midst of all this, Mina and I too, were trying to pick a gift for a friend’s birthday. It wasn’t easy, just as selecting and agreeing on a common gift generally isn’t. Mina picked up a hairbrush for herself, and dashed towards the cash counter to get it billed separately. Meanwhile I was still wondering whether my friend would like the gift we’d agreed upon.
Mina (at the cash counter) – “Please bill this separately.”
She then turned and walked back towards me. After a few minutes we were back at the counter. I kept the gift for billing. The guy started billing both the items together.
“No, No separately” – said Mina
My cell beeped and I moved away.
Mina was dragging me towards the counter even before I had hung up. “Come here”, she said-“he’s not getting it!”
“What isn’t he getting? What happened” – I wanted to attend the call, it was mum- she hates it when I hang up without giving proper answers.
Mina- “I don’t know what’s wrong with him, he’s billing it together despite my telling him, think he doesn’t understand English, Bhaiya alag alag bill banaiye.”
That’s when I first saw him. He looked smart, helpful with a look of slight confusion on his face. There was something about him that caught my attention. Maybe it was his eyes- they were honest and sincere. And then he smiled- his face lit up, instantly.
“We want these two separately, alag alag”- I repeated. He maintained his friendly smile. I separated the two items and pointed my index finger to show that I wanted one bill for each item. He nodded the shining look of realization on his face. Within seconds he was handing over both the packets to me, his friendly smile never leaving his face. I smiled back- “Thank you”- I said.
After a few months i saw an article about the same guy in the papers- stating how he hasn’t let his incapabilities affect his life, how he’s been working at the shop for more than a year, and about his interaction with his co-workers,customers etc.
Certain incidents leave a lasting impression…I think this is one of them.