“Masterji!” she called.
“Haan beta.” I replied.
“Aapne kuch laya?”
Searching through my bundle of letters for her mother’s name, I finally said “Nahi beta. Par main aapke liye kuch aur laya hoon.”
I extended my hand to give her a Mango Bite. She smiled cutely without losing a second.
The small girl standing in front of me must have been only 5 years then. Wearing a long sleeveless tunic dress nearly everyday, she ran towards her house gate intently hearing my cycle bell ring. Her hopeful eyes melted my heart at once. I delivered many letters to villagers but her excitement for me, for what I brought with me always caught my attention.
“Mujhe yeh pasand hai!”. It was probably her way of saying ‘Thank you’ for the toffee.
Saying this she rushed back to her mother to show her ‘surprise gift’. It happened everyday but her excitement remained like that of the first time. There were also moments when I chatted with her. She jabbered about everything around her. Half of it didn’t make much sense, but it didn’t really matter. I was glad to see her childish enthusiasm – the brightest part of my day. I could never make up my mind on why she called me ‘Masterji’.
Everyday at 6 in the morning, I cycled my way through widespread farms, gentle morning breeze welcoming me. Tiny birds like sparrows sat fearlessly on scarecrows chirping every now and then, perhaps communicating my presence to their kind. On most of the mornings I faced the cloudy weather that predicted the upcoming rains about to hit my small villages .
I had seen many kids grow up in these villages. It was interesting to see the gradual changes in their behaviour. As children, they would be excited only by looking at me. Perhaps, they liked me cycling around. Or perhaps, they liked the stamps that I handed with the letters. Or perhaps, the stories that I brought with me in the form of letters. As years passed by, I turned less important to them. Life happened, apparently. They attended school, went to college of the nearby towns and got married. They settled in towns and cities as villages were no more ‘comfortable’ or ‘convenient’ for them.
I have been a post man for the past forty one years and I’m 59 now. The villagers around me know me. I know generations. Thanks to my father who was a postman too and served these villages.
My interaction with the small girl lasted for three or four more years. As per God’s plan, her family left the village once her father bought a new house in a town. Though I was sad, I was happy for her. Sometimes, I wished that I get to see her again, perhaps she would visit the village but I soon realised she would have grown up by now.