As I reached the odd looking shop and smiled at Jagran Chacha, he appeared to be in a bright mood. Here’s why it was fishy. Jagran Chacha was infamous for his grouchy expressions as he read the Dainik Jagran editorials perennially. He last smiled during the monsoons of 2010 when apparently his village had been nominated for a development award. I plonked three moldy 10 rupee notes on his table and wordlessly picked up my Ice-cream. That’s one thing I loved as a regular customer! Every afternoon at 1.30 my double chocolate Cornetto awaited me at Chacha’s shop. The small talk with Chotu and Chacha, was admittedly not the day’s highlight, but yes, it did figure into my daily dose of indulgence. Ironically, I decided to forgo today the one thing that I needed the most, an off chit-chat.
As I stood outside the shop and took a bite, I wondered about my precarious decisions and the mess that I know called life. One of my friends had once postulated “If you’re sorted right now, it just means God’s planning some mischief, Satan-style”. Strange isn’t it? Life suddenly changes paths without a warning, everything loses order or sense and you descend into chaos. That’s what was happening to me. I had potently decided that I needed to take some bold steps to curb my problems. Giving up on the supposed vices of teenage life was a priority. My sister already laid claim to my cell phone, and social networks were to be closed at the click of a button. Sorting and planning were my buzz words for the day as I miserably started off with the waffle of the cone. I don’t know why, but ice-cream, especially a Cornetto always brings me to my senses. Once I actually sat down to find the reason behind it. I even tried to interpret some deep meaning behind the melting of the soft chocolate flavored disk and I reached a sensible conclusion which read “If it’s hot, it’ll melt you dummy!” So I let it be.
Biting into the bottom half of the cone, I saw an uncanny scene. Right across the road, a small little boy, perhaps the age of three or four, the rags made him look older though, was walking. An insignificant empty can sat right in the middle of his path. The boy stopped in his tracks, and with eyes full of snide yet innocent curiosity, began examining it. He prodded it with small squishy fingers, stared at the nearly gone label and measured its size. Perhaps it was a religious thing or maybe an odd fixation, but he wasn’t going on further, as if the can was stopping him. Seemingly seeing no alternative, he did what most of us do to feel good; he started crying. He cried et he wailed, but the can didn’t move. How was the young child to know that like most people today, metallic cans too didn’t have hearts that melt at the sight of someone else’s anguish. Just as I bit into the best yet unfortunately the last bit of the cone, I saw the child wipe his snotty nose of his rag like clothes and angrily stand up. If I had not known better, I would have thought it to be the angry young man look of Bollywood. He raised his leg, and in perfect arc, swung it with force towards the can and kicked it straight across the road where it rolled over to God knows where. With a smile, the kid walked on.
I hastily wiped my spectacles to remove the oily, sweat smudge. As I put them back on, everything seemed to change. The bloodshot eyes stare seemed to be more of a stranger’s courteous acknowledgement than hate. The woman’s flared nose as she bargained with Jagran Chacha over something seemed cute again and Chacha’s grouchy expression was back. The kids were giggling at me and my slightly displaced look. As I exited the shop, the afternoon seemed brighter and so did my mood. I wondered why I was thinking so oddly. Maybe, it was the spectacle’s smudge or perhaps the ice-cream. I’ll never know, but the best part is, I don’t want to know.