This story was originally published at https://worldcitystories.com/tag/bangalore/
To all those on two wheels with a box of food.
I had been seeing him for three quarters of my life. Of course, that sounds more than the twelve years of my sixteen years, it is. I saw him on the way to school, and then, college.
In a deep voice he would call out to the food crazy Bangaloreans. (Indeed, there isn’t a street here, without a quaint restaurant serving delightful Davangere Benni Dose, or fluffy Paddu.
The breezy weather is perfect for eating any delicacy, piping hot.
He was not from Bangalore. They all came from afar; Rajasthan, or Gujarat, and made a living, selling what they knew best, to people who loved it best.
Despite the strong sun, or gentle rain; as the Council of Gods proclaimed, he would move all along the green and garbage strewn city, while wafts of tasty tid-bits around seduced us.
I was fifteen when my uncle and I met him on my way home.
‘Kachchori-Samose! Kachchori- Samose! Chaat!’ his voice rang.
There were many vehicles moving behind us. A chaat stall was ahead, and a great shop of utensils sat looming aside. It was that brilliant spell when a drizzle would catch the city, and you would like to receive it full, on your face, and everything felt misty and charming.
My uncle gestured for him to give us four samose.
‘Onion masala chahiye?’ You want onion and masala with it?
He carefully pulled out four samosas from his Cornucopia.
‘Kahan se atey hai?’ Where do you come from? My uncle asked, smiling, in broken Hindi.
‘Jodhpur ke ek gaon se, bhaiya.’ From a village in Jodhpur, brother.
He ladled sweet chutney in the hole he had made in the four samosas.
He pointed towards me. He had a genial smile on.
‘Isske jaise beti hai.’ I have a daughter like her. ‘Shaadi hogi March main.’ Her marriage will happen in March. His hand shook with the weight of four samosas on the small plate.
‘Oh!’ I exclaimed.
She was fifteen?
I gaped at my samosa.
She was getting married, already?
I was still dreaming about being an aeronautical engineer and a chartered accountant in turns.
I was slowly becoming more indignant of this unknown girl’s prospects, having heard of such incidents only in newspapers or textbooks.
We packed the other two samosas and went home.
I confess, I had not thought of his food, or him, for several days afterwards. He would be at his daughter’s wedding festivities, I supposed.
I had my Board exams, and couldn’t spare thoughts on anything but the molecular formula of acetone or the topography of villages in India.
Therefore I was astonished to see him, a few months later, in a railway station far away from his usual place near and around my house, still selling his fare.
My mother decided samosa would be a great snack to start off a train journey through North Karnataka.
‘Kaisi ho beta?’ How are you? He gave my mother the change.
I smiled slightly,’Aapki beti?’ Your daughter?
‘Ab nahi rahi.’ She is no more. He turned away, a smile frozen on his old face.
Again, I was speechless.
I did not ask.
Ah, humankind, we must wonder. We live in our delusionary noospheres*, protected in our illusory invincibility, forgetting peripeteia* are always in order, in Creation.
*uncle: in various countries/cultures it is common to call non-related men and women, whom you are familiar with, “uncle” and “aunt”.
*noosphere: The noosphere is a concept used by Vladimir Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin to denote the “sphere of human thought”.
*peripeteia is a reversal of circumstances or turning point.
July 27th, 2015