Shiva’s two older brothers walked to school everyday. Shiva was the baby of the house and was usually walked to school by an adult, much to his dislike.
Finally, when he turned seven, his father declared that Shiva could walk to school by himself.
The excitement Shiva felt was indescribable. He had always wanted to stop and look at the stray cats and dogs that he met on the way. Sometimes, he wanted to pick up stones and pebbles from the road, but the adults tugged at his hand, and that was that.
Now, all that was about to change. He was given a little pocket money to spend every week, and his grandma usually gave him a couple of coins, when he ran errands for her.
The little boy got his first taste of independence. On the first day of his walking alone from school, he stopped at a small shop that had opened in the village square recently.
He went there and stood staring at all the glass jars, stacked to their necks with candies, savouries, sweets, chocolate and other wonderful things. Shiva’s mouth watered as he tried to make a choice.
The shop owner sat impassively, totally accustomed to children staring and eyeing the goods.
Shiva suddenly let out a gasp. He saw a jar, filled with the most beautiful glass marbles in the world. Shiva and his friends usually spent their weekends playing games with these glass beauties.
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There was one marble that Shiva stared at. It was a beautiful sea green with flecks of blue. It was a big marble and seemed to beckon to him.
“How much for the green marble?” he asked the shopkeeper.
“That’s five rupees,” said the shopkeeper.
Shiva’s shoulders fell as he realized that it would take him a while to collect that money. But his face suddenly looked determined. He would save up and buy that marble, come what may.
And from that day, every evening he stood and stared at the Sea Green Marble. The shopkeeper was used to the boy now as he did his Math on a piece of paper, positioning it on the lid of one of the glass jars.
Penny by penny the boy collected coins, inching closer and closer to realizing his dream. He hugged his little secret to himself, waiting to vanquish his friends when they played next.
The last few days were the worst. He kept asking his grandma for coins all the time, and she was less generous now. He prayed for the visit of an uncle or aunt, who would give him a few coins.
However, nothing like that happened and he had to go through that most difficult waiting period.
He was just 10p short of five rupees. And that evening, when he reached the shop, his heart nearly stopped beating. His Sea Green Marble was missing from the jar.
Tears and anger wrestled for control in that tiny heart. He looked at the shopkeeper accusingly. Hadn’t he seen Shiva every day, staring at that marble?
How could he?
“Who bought the Sea Green Marble?” he asked, in a quivering voice.
The shopkeeper went into the shop, and Shiva shouted out, “I am only 10p short. I would have been able to afford it next week.”
The shopkeeper came back with a small glass box in his hand and said, “Here is your Sea Green Marble. There was a boy who kept eyeing the same marble this week, so I kept it inside so that when you had the money, it would be yours.”
Shiva whooped and gave the shopkeeper a sudden hug.
“Thank you so much. I will come back soon, I promise”, said the little boy as he walked home with a spring in his step.
The shopkeeper waved and went inside his shop, and carefully placed the glass container on a shelf.