The red umbrella

Photo for representation.

I was seated in the front seat of a bus and was on my way to my office when I saw a group of four children. All of them, neatly dressed in school uniforms, were aged probably below 10 years. They boarded the bus and were taking turns climbing onto the bonnet of the bus next to the driver. Once they had settled down comfortably in that small space, they got into a very animated conversation. One girl took a red-coloured umbrella out of her school bag and displayed it to the boy in front of her. The excitement seemed to be oozing out from both the boy and the girl. Then, they shared something with the driver. From where I was sitting, I could not see if it was a small toy or something to eat.

All the while I watched on, amazed at what was happening between that small group of four children and the driver. The bus was full of people but my eyes were glued to them, and everything else faded to oblivion. Of course, this wasn’t the first time that I was seeing little children. In fact, it was not even the first time I had seen a red umbrella. However, the bonhomie that they shared between themselves and the driver, who was obviously enjoying their company, even as he drove the crowded bus, made my day.

That incident taught me a lot, even if it was brief. I saw how freely they trusted one another. The children connected so well among themselves and the otherwise busy driver, without speaking a word—they were visually-impaired and speech-impaired. I felt compelled to reflect on how much we think before we talk or smile at someone.

I still remember the twinkle in the eyes of the girl and the joy on their faces. They were all enamoured by a simple red umbrella. Nothing else mattered—the rain outside or the discomfort of their cramped seating arrangement on the bonnet.

Most importantly, the children lived in the moment. They had fun, interacted with each other, all without any fuss. While most of us hesitate to show our emotions—be it joy, sorrow, or excitement—when we are surrounded by people, they were unafraid of what others might think or say.

The bus commute ended sometime later but the little children and their red umbrella will always remain memorable to me. I pray to be blessed with the simplicity I saw in those children, to be able to revel in simple joys, like the red umbrella, in our busy lives.

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