For the earlier part, read here
Next day it was a silent Kittu who went to school.
‘Well, young man, have you brought the school fees’, it was Rao Sir.
‘No, my mother could not arrange it’, he said.
‘What do you mean by that, if she couldn’t then you do’
‘What, ME?’ said Kittu, ‘What will I be able to do?’
‘Why??? You can’t do anything?? Have you seen boys delivering newspapers, have you seen boys singing in the streets and then earning some money…’
‘I am not a beggar, I will not beg’, said the defiant Kittu.
‘Then work,’ said Rao Sir, ‘it is better than bossing over others’. Rao sir who knew about Kittu’s behaviour at home said. ‘Do anything but bring the fees in two days time.’ And as an afterthought he added, ‘The Tent Company has returned and people are queuing up for seeing some moving pictures.’ Those days there were no movie theaters. There would be companies showing these movies that would move from place to place with their tents. In which those movies would be shown.
Kittu sat in absolute silence trying to digest whatever Rao sahib. Slowly the fact of their financial position was sinking in. Yes, they were now poor, so poor that most of the days his mother and sister had to sleep hungry. So poor that his or rather any of his siblings education could not be funded by his mother. So if he really had to study then he had to fund it himself.
But what had Rao Sir said later. The Tent Company were in town. So what was he to do about it?
He sat for a long time.
Rao Sir meanwhile was talking to Rukmini. ‘Forgive me sister, but today I was harsh to your son’.
‘Did he do something wrong?’, asked Rukmini.
‘No, but I wanted to make him realise what situation you are in. He is a bright kid who will do wonders but he has to be independent now itself for that. He has to learn how.’
‘But how….’, said Rukmini.
‘I have planted the seeds, let’s see what happens. Meanwhile take these two rupees and do as I say’, said Rao Sir.
Kittu could not fathom what Rao Sir had told him. Then he called upon Suresh his classmate, ‘Suresh have you been to the Tent’.
‘Yes, I have’, said Suresh proudly.
‘What do you do there’, asked Kittu
‘We watch films and we eat…. candy and peanuts and….’, said he with dreamy eyes.
Something clicked and Kittu ran. As soon as the bell rang, he ran. He had lots of work to do. The day was long and there were loads to do.
‘Amma, amma I have a plan’, said Kittu and explained to his mother what he wanted to do. He wanted to sell peanuts outside the Tent.
His mother said how difficult it would be for her to finance his project but she would do it for his sake. So from that day onwards she would fry peanuts and fill them in triangular packs of old newspaper.
And then Kittu would take those in wicker baskets and go sell it outside the Tent.
He could not accumulate his school fees in two days but he did do it in seven.
There were two-three people selling peanuts but Kittu had an edge. The people who did not come to watch movies would flock around him for he would sing the songs and enact dialogues for those who could not afford to watch the movies. Slowly his brother too started standing with him selling weeklies and booklets of the songs from movies.
When there were no customers Kittu would sit and study with the help of the light from the lantern. His brother would ward off flies from their stall while in turn selling booklets.
(to be continued)