By Abhimanyu Sengupta, 10
I used to walk my dog in a big ground near my house called Goowadi. One day me and my friend Kabir saw some kids playing in the ground. I asked them can I play with you? Yes, they said. One of the children from that bunch was called Ningraj. He lives in a shanty near the ground. His father has made many of the buildings in our neighbourhood in Bombay. He is a construction labourer. Whenever I went to the ground from then, I would pass Ninraj’s shanty. We would go to Goowadi with my dog and play. This is a photo of Ningraj (on the left), me and my friend Kabir (on the right) with my dog, Spirit.
One day I asked him to come to my house. He said hello to my mother. I took him to play with the rest of my friends in MTNL Colony. Soon we were good friends. And now this is the third year of our friendship and I know many things about him. Like his full name is Ningraj Baburao. And how much he can sleep. And when he grows up he wants to be a pilot. He also told my mother he wants to be an inspector to stop bad things from happening to people. Actually, he has not decided yet what he wants to be. This is a photo of Ningraj with some of my friends in MTNL Colony.
Ningraj has a small brother and his name is Sonu. Sonu and Ningraj study in the same class. This is me below, with Sonu and Ningraj in front of their house. It was Sonu’s birthday that day. Their parents had decorated the area with a very colourful pandal and streamers.
Ningraj has a dog called Moti. He is huge. Really huge. But he hates going into the main road as he is very scared of cars. And he has lovely eyes. And a pointy face. I go to Ningraj’s house sometimes to play with Moti.
Ningraj’s house is made out of wooden planks. I have been there many times.
I like his house – it is open on all sides and has many trees around it. But Ningraj told me that it is sinking. There is a big hole next to it which was dug because someone wanted to build a house there. But it was not made. But the hole is still there. Every time it rains in the monsoons, the hole is filled with water – it looks like a pond but is very dirty. All the ground near the pond is sinking into the water. And the water comes into Ningraj’s place.
One day we had gone to Crossword with Ningraj. Crossword is one of my favourite places in Bandra. It is a book store. But it also has lots of toys and games. Ningraj and I go there many times with my mother. One day we were entering Crossword. Ningraj stopped and pointed to the building opposite and said very proudly, “My father has built this building.” It was a very big building and very shiny with glass in front. His father works very hard to build buildings like this in Bombay. But Ningraj stays in a shanty. He told me his father used to work for a ‘Seth’ and then he had a quarrel with him. Now he works for someone else. This Seth is now trying to throw them out of the shanty.
Ningraj can climb trees in Goowadi super fast. He is a very good climber.
Many people do not like me and Ningraj being friends. In the beginning the other people living in my building told my mother that Ningraj could not come into the building. They said people like him are “not allowed.” I was very upset. My mother was very angry. One day, when Ningraj continued to come to our building, the building secretary slapped him. I was crying. I was so angry. My mother went down and took him into our building holding his hand. No one could say anything. Now slowly people have accepted him. No one complains anymore. Somebody even gave him a second-hand bicycle that they did not use anymore. Even when I go to shops like Crossword with him, the people there stare at him. Many times he was told to get out as they thought he had just wandered in. My mother told them he was with us. Then they would say sorry.
I have a lot of fun with Ningraj. We spend a lot of time together. He comes to my house in the evening after his school gets over. I can hear the loud trrring trrring of his bicycle bell from my window. I think he does that to tell me he is coming. We play cricket, hockey, football, go cycling. We climb trees and pluck guavas and mangoes. We play games like Twister and Scotland Yard. We love watching Dragon BallZ together at my place and then pretending to be Goku or Gohaan and and we love to wrestle.
I have begun to teach Ningraj to read and write in English. He is very good in maths. And his handwriting is very neat. But he gets confused with spellings and cannot read. My mother is trying to teach him too. She gets very angry with him sometimes when he makes mistakes. Then he gets scared.
In my holidays, I will go to Goa to visit our friends and family who live there. I want to take Ningraj with me. He has been to my school. All my friends in Bombay know him.