The Little Acrobat

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Text by Patty Simon | Image by Dick Simon


I don’t know whether to cry or be in awe of what I am seeing. While traveling, I remind myself that these sights have context and the reasons become emotionally charged.

We are 100 meters from our hotel in Kanyakumari. We have walked this path over 10 times and once again, I am blown away by yet another spectacular sight.

A little girl, about 7 years old, dressed “up” in purple and balancing three silver pots on her head. She is 7 feet off the ground on a makeshift tightrope set up on the street. The young father looks indifferent while tapping a drum and the mother holding a crying baby in the sweltering sun is adding to the drama beating a tin pan.  I only hope they are ‘spotting’ her tiny body as she kneels on a silver pan balancing on her knees, swishing back and forth and forward and backwards.

We stop and get out of the car to watch and video. I notice not a few but many visiting Indians give large donations – paper money not coins and we, of course, do the same.

I notice I am almost in tears seeing this sweet, innocent child being used as the sole provider for her entire family. Though, in a different setting, she could be training for the Olympics as a young gymnast.

I wish I could see her in a clean, crisp school uniform going to school or dressed in a new party dress on vacation eating an ice cream. But, even as she is, the good news in a country of millions of poor – this family is not starving – but at what cost?


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