The Chai-Wala: Chotu

When I was in 11th grade, my dad had a toy shop in the prime location of the city. I used to go there in the evening when dad was busy. There was a small tea-shop in the gali(lane) which served tea to the whole gali. A small boy of 10-11 years used to come around carrying six cup of tea asking if we needed any.

Now, the gali being a typical Marathi community gali, there was ample business for him (people tend to drink tea for fun after every 10-15 minutes). If there were any guest in the shop, he would offer them tea.

The boy after his work would come in my shop and ask for power rangers toy. There were many toys in the power rangers series and he would want to see them all.

He handled them carefully and kept them on rack decently. One day I just asked him, why does he look at same toy again and again??
He beemed and said, 'Jab mera pagar hoga na, mere pass bahut paisa hoga, main use khareedonga,' (when i will get my salary, I will have a lot of money, I will buy it)

I smiled back at him, seeing his innocent dreams, it was his moment of happiness, even if he doesn't buy the toy, he used to enjoy the moment that he is going to buy it.

Next month came, due to my exams I did not go to shop and my dad did not entertain such kids. So I could not meet the boy. One day I was just walking towards the shop and saw that boy staring throught the glass window at the display.

I called him inside and showed him the latest power rangers figure. He beemed again, but this time his face saddened.

'Kya hua?' (What happened?) I asked.
'Mera pagar bahut kam hua, aur bapu sara paisa le gaya,' (I have very less salary and my dad took all my money.)

He removed a torn 50 Rs. from his pocket and showed me. The note aparently was saved for the golden moment.
'Isme ayega power rangers?' (Will I get power ranger in this money??) he asked cutely.

There was no power rangers toy in that range and I felt bad for him, i gave him a car to play which was less than fifty and he saved some money as well.

I saw him play with the car for a long week, then one day he vanished out of the gali.

I went to the shop to ask what happened? The shop keeper said that his father was a drunkyard and was taken into police custody for some mishap.

The boy was left with no guardian, so was taken into child care unit.

I never saw the boy again, now 9 months later I've returned to Pune and yesterday I went to the same gali to see if my little friend is back....he is not.

He had a dream. A dream to buy his favorite toy and that 10 year old worked hard to fulfill that dream. I just hope that wherever he is taken, he will grow big and one day I will meet him as a big man who still dreams.

One more point to add there, I asked his name at the shop...but no-one knows, they simply call him chotu (little one).


  1. There are thousands of kids out there like chotu... I hope one day we are truly able to overcome the problem of poverty and chil labor... You did a nice thing though..

  2. yes, and it is my sincere wish that one day...chotu truly buys his power rangers.
    All the memories of my past are present in that gali, now that I have returned to Pune, i feel their presence everywhere!!!

  3. This is moving post. But still there are lot of chottus around us who are trying to earn a decent living.

    Hopefully things will change for better.

  4. @Adesh
    If we all try to attempt once, i am sure we can change things for them.


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