While the inviting warmth of the quilt makes you snuggle in deeper to beat the cold, the world outside is waking up to a brave new beginnings. Santosh Bakaya crawls out to find that spring is round the corner!
The unprecedented cold seemed to go on, unabated. I had no intention of going for a walk in this severe cold, but I had to, because a bird seemed to be pecking at the window of my bedroom, with unwavering concentration, trying to pull me out of my cold-induced stupor.
The skies would not come falling down on me, if I continued nestling in the warmth of my quilt, I tried to reason with myself, burying deeper into the layers like a rabbit burrowing into its hole, but the bird at the window, would hear none of the rabbit’s unuttered requests.
So, with the sleep still in my eyes, sloth still in my limbs, and reluctance in my heart, my feet groped for my shoes, and I slowly made my way out of the snug comfort of the quilt and was out of the house.
The pups, of whom there seemed to be a sudden profusion all over the neighbourhood, looked askance at me. The cow busily hunting for food in the garbage bin, stopped chewing and a horde of pigeons on the parapet of the neighbor’s flat, flapped their wings in welcome, yodeled loudly, applauding my valour of braving the cold.
But I looked around and had to reconsider the act of patting myself on the back.
Everyone [except me] seemed to be up and about. The school kids, all bright, beautiful and brave were standing at the gates of their apartment buildings, waiting for their school buses – some with their mothers, some with their fathers and some with their grandparents. The joggers, the cyclists, the construction workers – all were there undeterred by the bone-piercing cold.
I walked further to come across the tea vendor, and thought that he was all alone at the shop and his wife and kids had not come because of the severe cold.
“Bhaut sardi hai na?” I said, waiting for him to tell me that his family did not accompany him because of the cold, but his answer caught me unawares.
“Kya sardi kya garmi, hamay to kaam kerna hai, madamji.”
“Your family did not come today?”
He did not answer my question because, he was preoccupied.
His eyes were looking at something in the distance. I turned in the direction to find that it was not something, but someone he was looking at.
It was his wife almost racing towards him; she smiled a perfunctory smile in my direction and addressed her husband,
“Please give me a packet of cigarettes, quickly!”
Before I could launch into a lecture on how cigarette smoking is injurious to health, she had also asked him for a packet of tea. Pouncing on both packets, she whirled around and dashed towards a kiosk a few feet away, where another construction site had come up. A mall was being constructed there and I could see a lot of hustle and bustle.
“We started another tea kiosk there,” the tea vendor said, pointing towards it, a triumphant glow on his face.
“She even makes food – chapattis, sabzi, roti. She is busy the whole day.” His smile was more expansive now.
It was obvious that the kiosk was doing brisk business, and it was only seven in the morning. I walked towards this new kiosk and was happy to see all the six benches were occupied, and even the makeshift stools were tottering under the heavyweights of the neighbourhood, the two kids of the tea vendor were scampering around, chortling delightedly, I was told that the eldest one had gone to school.
I hastened my steps, feeling less cold.
No, it was not the handiwork of the sun which was slowly piercing the fog and creeping out, but it was something else.
It was the enterprising woman waving out to me, her warm smile sending heat waves in my direction, warming my cold insides and putting a spring in my walk. Spring was also round the corner. The rabbit in me was delighted! Had I not had the courage to crawl out of my burrow, I would have missed this brave new beginning!
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