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  • Reader pays it forward, gets surprised.

I got my first pay cheque at the age of 22 years. It was a sum of Rs15,000 (Dh798.5)and it was a huge sum of money for someone who used to receive Rs400 (Dh21.2) a month for pocket money. I was ecstatic to see the sum flash on the screen of the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM). I decided to deposit half of it with my parents. I knew this money would be a saving, so I did some shopping at Sarojini Nagar market, a popular flea market in the city of Delhi. I treated some friends to dinner and had some fun.

After all that, I was still left with quite a bit of my salary. I wanted to do something purposeful with the remaining sum of money and decided to give it to someone needy. I set out in a rickshaw to find that one person who I could pass on the money to. After much deliberation, I fixed the giveaway amount to Rs1,000 (Dh53.2).

I finally found the person I was looking for. She was sitting on a pile of old newspapers on a bench in Buddha Park. She had a black bag under her arm, the only treasure she possessed, I guessed. I walked towards her. She looked in my direction and smiled. I was surprised that she smiled at a complete stranger. I sat right next to her on the bench and asked her where she lived. She told me the park was her home and the bench, her bed. I was encroaching into her private space. I got up to leave but she reminded me that the park was for everyone. We both smiled. I told Lata, the woman, I wanted to share some money with her. She asked me why. I told her I thought she needed it. She didn’t respond. I handed her the money and left.

I was curious to know what Lata would do with the money so I turned around and walked in her direction. I found her aimlessly wandering from one grocery store to another. After two hours of loitering around, she met her ‘gang of friends’. They were about 5 of them. She sat with them and chatted for a long time. Finally after what seemed like forever to me, she got up and walked into a shop. She picked up packets of milk, breads and bottles of water. Seeing her coming towards them, the dogs jumped with joy.

I recognised them to be the stray canines around my complex. I hadn’t seen a happier bunch of friends. After giving her the money I thought I must have made her day. In reality, she made mine.

- The reader is a writer and a voice-over artist based in Dubai.