The Young Vendors
The Young Vendors3 mins 105 3 mins 105
During summers, the vegetable market got filled with smells of tropical fruits. The stalls of lemons, mint, and cucumbers would get empty as soon as they opened. Heaps of watermelons welcomed people. Although sometimes, they would roll out of their cart I had never heard of anyone stealing them but rather they would be returned back to the vendors by the passers-by. When I visited the market, sometimes, I would just stand by the stalls to smell the freshness and talk to the farmers. They would be very excited to tell us about their products, just as if talking about their children. My father had a habit of only buying from old vendors. I found it odd, so one day I asked him.
“They work so hard, even during old age. Don’t you think they need money to retire,” he explained. It wasn’t that I had any grudges but his answer stroke another question in my mind that don’t the young people need money to pay fees for their children and feed their families. Father didn’t respond and moved to another stall. I followed him.
We were buying potatoes when a group of kids greeted the vendor. I was amused to see them carrying a bag that was way too large for their own size. “Why are you still standing? Grab them!” the vendor screamed at them. At first, I got scared but then I noticed that the kids were putting potatoes in the bag that the four of them were holding with both their hands. The vendor smiled at me. “Hurry on!” he screamed again.
I noticed the potatoes they were taking were different from what we were buying. So as annoying as I am, I asked the vendor.
“They’re not good. Got some scratches and stuff…..folks like you don’t buy it. So we give it to them.” He answered.
I have been coming to market for a decade but I had never noticed that every stall had this heap next to it with the deemed ugly vegetables. Meanwhile, we were talking, the kids filled their bags and left. But I wanted to know what they would do with them, so I started roaming around the market to find them.
At last in one corner I found them. They had spread a cloth on the road and put the bag of vegetables on it. That was their stall.
“Don’t you go to school?” I asked them.
“No….can you buy some of this?” one of them answered, pointing at the bag.
I agreed and questioned, “What do you do with the vegetables that are left?”
“Sometimes we take them home for dinner and sometimes we plant them.” The same kid answered.
I asked where their house was. They pointed at the slums behind the market and unfortunately, their vegetables never grew because they could never water them.
They handed me my order and asked me to come again.
“Would you like to go to school someday?” I asked.
“Can you build a school for us?” a girl answered and I swear I had never felt so privileged yet so poor in my life before.