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I remember the day Kerri decided to part ways with the puppet. This was no ordinary puppet. It was hand made by a crafter she had met while living in Bolivia. She wavered a bit, but then she placed it in a box of junk we kept in the closet and said, "My junk will become somebody else’s treasure."
Running errands in a large, chaotic city like New Delhi required some preparation. After receiving Delhi belly from a restaurant we had been to, I learned to pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After becoming sad at the mere sight of all the hungry animals in the streets, I learned to pack our leftover pancakes and other veggie table scraps for the cows. And after learning that the rupee the street kids begged for actually went to their abusive keepers, I learned to pack juice boxes, fruit, and special prizes from that box of junk we had in our closet.
The day I pulled the puppet out of our box of junk became a day I'll never forget. While running our errands, as we were stopped at a traffic light, we heard a faint knock on the door of our car. At first we couldn’t see anyone, but then we looked toward the ground where we saw a small teenaged girl with cerebral palsy sitting and begging for money. Flies were swarming around her head, she was barefoot, her clothing was torn, and it appeared as though she was drugged or drunk, as most of the Delhi street kids usually were.
I parked the car and then pulled out a juice box, a piece of fruit, and the puppet. We walked over to the girl and sat down next to her and peeled and gave her an orange. After she finished eating the orange, she noticed the puppet. I put it on my hand and made it bounce around. She smiled and reached out for it, so I put it on her hand. She imitated my motions and started giggling and playing with the puppet as though she didn’t have a care in the world.
As we drove away, in the rearview mirror, I saw that she continued to play. The puppet from our box of junk had not only become her treasure, but it had brought out the kid in her -- the kid she was never allowed to be. Playing with the puppet allowed her a brief escape from her difficult reality of living and working in the streets. Most passersby likely saw her as a beggar and nuisance, but in that moment, she had become one of the most beautiful people I had ever seen.
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Describe an object of beauty that only you find beautiful.