Pantomime artists

We spotted her outside the car windows. Her face was painted like that of a clown but the lines around her eyes and mouth were so jagged that it made her look lopsided and a little absurd in an innocent way. She looked no more than seven or eight years old. Seeing us looking at her she began to turn cartwheels. Her feet rose up amidst the cars and then she appeared upright and smiling, making eye contact with us. A couple of cartwheels later, she stood outside the window twisting her arms around her in a form of such supple gymnastics that we all stared at her and simultaneously reached for our bags to find something to give. I  pulled out a hundred rupee, did a quick dollar conversion in my head and wanted to give it. Everyone in the car stopped me and I put it away. My brother opened the window and gave her a smaller rupee note. Then suddenly our car was surrounded. Many children with their faces colored in those garish hues, round blackened eyes, bright red lips, hair in bright ribbons; smiles painted on. They started to beat on the windows. Rhythmic hits on the glass, palms beating relentlessly with the strength they had displayed in their aerobatics. Suddenly their faces formidable apparitions from a psychedelic dream. Hands, faces, colors, forces, threats of violence and danger. Children become monsters.  The car began to move. I expected them to give chase but they melted away in the smoke and dust of the moving cars.

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