Raghu ran round the corner of the building with two of his younger cousins looking out for the ball which had been hit by Sagar at a ferocious speed. There was a tacit agreement between the 'Gully boys' that the ball should not cross the third building in the row as there was a steep turn that opened on the main road. Traffic, even at this point of day was quite heavy and as such the kids made sure they did not get into trouble by having clearly laid down rules.
However, today Sagar was in a different frame of mind as he was facing a tough time at home. The other kids had heard strange noises coming from his house and there were visible bruises on his left cheek. Occasionally there were sounds of crockery smashing and sounds of women crying. Neighbors had offered to help them out but in return Sagar was told to keep out and play with his friends while this sign was hung outside the Mehta residence -
While Raghu was running around looking for the cricket ball he could see a a bunch of older kids teasing a stray dog. They were peltering pebbles on the innocent animal. He thought it might be because the dog had done some mischief but as he looked on he could notice that it was being done for pure fun. He tugged at one of them and asked if they could stop. He was shooed off and told to the mind his own business. He looked at the little dog for a few more seconds and then ran away to find his missing ball.
"DO NOT DISTURB"
A few blocks away there was a temple with a huge gate. He decided to look there but was not sure if he would be allowed inside. They were wearing knee length torn pants and unwashed vests with a lot of stains. They could not afford to have their clothes washed on a daily basis like the rich kid Sagar. Embarrassed and unsure they entered the temple premises. Two guards came running from inside a room and started shouting at them. Raghu composed himself and told the guards in his most confident voice that he was here to look for a missing cricket ball. The guards looked at each other in disbelief and then started laughing. They told him that street urchins can never be allowed inside such a sacred place. He tried to reason with them but was sent away as there could not have been any argument on matters of religion. Not with someone as young as these kids.
Sad and dejected all three of them turned back towards their gully. From the corner of his eyes Raghu noticed a toddler trying to gorge on the small red ball. He would have almost gone unnoticed if not for the loud noises that the kid was making. The ball resembled an apple and that was a treat for a street toddler. They quickly grabbed the ball from the kid's hand and started running towards their play-spot. They could hear the child sobbing loudly behind their back.
On the next crossing they spotted a man happily discharging on the side wall of a house. All the kids made an annoying noise and told the man to stop. The man only glared at them and went on with his mischief. The kids had had enough of "DO NOT DISTURB"s for one day and they made a huge ruckus around this. It was a big deal as Raghu's mother was sleeping on a cot just two doors away while Tony was studying for his upcoming exams.
This was an attack on their lifestyle however insignificant it could be to anyone else. In a matter of minutes many of the locals joined in. The man got totally shocked and was struggling with his zip. At the same time he was determined to give those little rascals a piece of his mind. As more and more people poured in it was evident that the man will be facing a tough time. Soon he realized it would be best to admit his mistake and apologized in front of everyone.
The smile on Raghu's face was priceless. The younger ones always looked up to him and liked his new found attitude of "SPEAK UP"