Girl in the Yellow Crocs


She lived in an under-construction house in my neighbourhood with her parents, who worked as daily wagers and caretakers, and her two younger siblings, one of them a mere toddler. I often noticed her sitting on the parapet outside the house as I left for work in the morning. Her intelligent eyes and bright face always made me turn around to give her a second look despite the rush hour.

That day as I crossed her on my way back, I noticed something bright and cheerful about her that gave her already sunny face an added dimension. A pair of stark yellow crocs adorned her grubby feet. I could not resist the urge to strike a little conversation with her. I parked my car on the roadside, got down and walked towards her. She looked at me with circumspection writ large in her quizzical eyes.

“Do you live here?” I pointed to the under-construction house.

She nodded her head while averting her gaze which was until now steadfastly fixed upon me.

“I like your shoes,” I said to her. She didn’t raise her head to look at me but kept staring at those bright yellow crocs.

“Are these new?” I was desperately trying to build up a dialogue with her.

She nodded again without looking up.

“Who bought these for you?” I tried to move over the ‘Yes/No’ questions. Being a teacher of English gives you an added advantage of knowing when to shift to the ‘Wh- questions’.

I could barely hear her when she said “Papa”. I think I must have imagined the answer. But this time she did look up and I discerned a glimmer of excitement in her eyes.

“Where did you buy from?” I tried another shot in the dark.

“There’s this shop in the market where Papa took me,” she opened up a bit.

“Do you really like this colour or did Papa buy these for you?” I asked baring my curiosity.

“There were so many colours- green, blue, black and orange. But I liked the yellow ones. They remind me of the yellow lemons,” she chirped along.

I burst out laughing. “The green ones could have reminded you of a parrot, the red ones of an apple, but you chose the ones that reminded you of lemons?” was all I could manage between fits of laughter.

“I don’t know what an apple is. But my mother says lemons are very expensive these days,” she laid out the clinching factor for my better comprehension.

I patted her on the head, got into my car and drove home bemused by the conversation I had with her. I replayed the entire tête-à-tête in my head all through the evening.

Over the next few days, I failed to sight her at her usual hangout. On the fifth day, I sighted her yellow crocs in the driveway of a neighbouring house while barefoot she swept the driveway.

Dr. Sonika Sethi