Prafulram - the unfortunate litterbug

Prafulram next understood the meaning of USE ME
Prafulram never understood the meaning of USE ME

It felt as if the bus had been waiting at the station forever. Its paint was chipped and the engine silent. Glasses from several windows were missing and the ones that had still managed to stick on, were scratched and filthy. If it wasn't for a hand that at regular intervals appeared out of the first window to discard a few shells of peanuts, one could have thought the bus to be incapable of running. But the driver, the conductor, and the few passengers seated inside knew that in approximately half an hour, the bus would be rushing down the ring road honking at and scaring the itsy bitsy cars and bikes.

Prafulram had arrived early. Out of habit, he had bought a lottery ticket from the vendor on the footpath along with a 100 grams of peanuts. He had boarded the bus destined for Panipat and was now seated inside comfortably. He knew that though the driver claimed the bus was just about to leave the station, it wasn't going to budge any sooner than half an hour. In about 10 minutes, the driver would start the engine to make it appear that the bus was ready to leave. But Prafulram didn't mind. He was never in a hurry to get anywhere. His small business of selling stationery provided for his basic needs. Of course he wanted money, but he couldn't be bothered to work hard for it.

He put his hand inside the paperbag to fish out another peanut, and with some amount of searching around found the tiny peanut that had managed to hide between the folds of the paper. After crushing the shell he threw the shell out and popped the nuts into his mouth. He rolled up the paperbag and discarded it too with disdain. He put his hand in his pocket to take out his handkerchief and found a thin bundle of papers instead. Surprised he took them out. He wasn't used to carrying papers in his pockets. They were the new brochures of a shop he used to sell his merchandise to. The shopkeeper had pressed them into his hands yesterday.

'What will I do with these?" He thought. He crumpled them into a ball and threw the ball out of the window too. Then he leaned back into the seat and closed his eyes. He still had three hours, and he wanted to catch up on his sleep.

On the footpath, where the ball made of brochures had landed, a dirty little boy was playing. No more than 4 year old, the boy was dressed in a torn sweater and a pajama that was at least two sizes too big. The colorful ball caught his eye and he picked it up. Till the evening he played with it and when it was time to go back to the makeshift tent his mother had set up with old saris, he took it there with him. His father arrived after a tough shift at the closest building site, and scooped up the little boy in his arms. The boy showed him the little ball and and asked his father to play with him. The father, though tired, played catch with the little one for a few minutes. Once the little boy went off to sleep, the father's curiosity got the better of him and he opened the ball to look at the colorful paper. And hidden inside the ball, he discovered a lottery ticket.

A couple of days later, Prafulram opens the morning newspaper and saw that the results for the lottery were out. He digs into his pockets doesn't find the ticket there.

"Oh never mind. I never win anyway", he says and folds the newspaper and goes back to sleep.

Meanwhile, miles away, the poor father who had desperately been waiting for the lottery results borrows the morning newspaper from a chola kulcha stall owner and frantically searches for the results. He compares the numbers and looks at his friend in disbelief.

"What happened?", asks the chola kulcha stall owner.

"I think I won a lottery," says the poor father.

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