The morning begins differently for each one. ‘Munch’ can be far away from munching and chocolates for some.
Last night’s unexpected rains had rendered the roads slippery, making it a daunting task to go for an early morning walk. To make up for the walk not taken, I went a couple of hours later, when the shops in the neighbourhood had started bustling with activity. The hullabaloo in one shop caught my attention. A fat shopkeeper was barking orders to a little, thin boy.
“MUNCH, MUNCH don’t you know englis?”
“There on the extreme end of the second shelf.”
“Englis is there?” The tiny chunk asked diffidently.
“You are making fun of me?” He glowered.
The boy’s eyes darted frantically towards the extreme end of the second shelf, and a shriveled up hand moved towards the extreme end of the second shelf, when disaster struck!
Near the extreme end of the second shelf.
In fact, disaster came tumbling down.
From the extreme end of the second shelf.
“You oaf, how clumsy ….you are, you uloo ka pattha, you half-wit…”.A string of expletives unspooled from the paunchy shopkeeper’s capacious mouth, while the tiny skeleton next to him shivered.
The tailor in the next shop who was assiduously giving finishing touches to a garment, suddenly stopped stitching and his ‘ingenious labyrinthine inlets’, as Charles Lamb would have loved to call, his ears pricked up.
A needle in his hand, curiosity in his eyes, glasses on his nose, and the inch tape around his neck, he was the very picture of an eavesdropper masquerading as a tailor. A ladies’ tailor actually, surrounded by ladies of all shapes and sizes shouting, complaining, admonishing, remonstrating and threatening.
The man whose eyes had neither looked to the left, nor to the right, now refused to leave the centre of the shop where the obese shopkeeper was brazenly exhibiting his rich, colourful vocabulary while the shrivelled up boy looked more shrivelled.
The tailor did not raise even a needle in protest.
Two men in the act of pulling a reluctant donkey towards a pole stopped altogether, no longer bothered by this asinine recalcitrance, and moved towards the shop.
The actions of one human ass were definitely more interesting. A truck full of building material lumbered forth, with all the grace of an overweight man who has given up on counting his calories. One man tried to smear another with the vibrant colors of his enthralling wit, while his companion appeared to be wilting under it. Suddenly,
this scene caught their fancy, and the one wilting, stopped wilting, and the witty one stopped being witty.
Staunch believers in the dictum that in the sphere of competitive vocalism if a thing is worth speaking, it is worth shrieking, two vegetable vendors tried to out-shriek each other in their bid to sell their stale vegetables.
The tiny boy picked up the chocolate bars from the ground and they again fell to the floor.
Suddenly the man pounced at the pathetic chunk and started punching him. The poor boy’s head shook like a balloon on a stick. Chin upon fleshy chin, maybe four of them, quivered with the intensity of the shopkeeper’s passion, while he punched and cursed away.
“You good for nothing idiot,” he shouted and punched and punched. Then having exhausted his punches, he slumped on an ancient looking chair, huffing and puffing, and from the snug comfort of the chair, there was another fusillade from him, with his hands beating a tattoo on his massive paunch. He clenched his hands and raised them in the air in a threatening manner.
Hey, what was this? Magic? Suddenly his inhuman callousness was replaced by a fawning politeness. He sprang from the ancient chair, the clenched fists unclenched, to pick up a chocolate from the shelf.
“Ley chaklate khayega? MUNCH chaklate?” (Will you have a Munch chocolate?)
No, he was not offering the chocolate to the shrivelled up boy, struck by pangs of guilt, but to another boy who had just walked into the shop. Mammoth tiers of flesh protruded from his ten year frame, and he was clutching one manicured hand of an elegant lady in Zara pants and stilettos, holding the cutest pug in her arms.
The boy pounced at the chocolate and looked covetously at the wealth displayed on the extreme end of the second shelf, and crinkled his nose at the chunk standing near the extreme end of the second shelf. “Mommy, this thing stinks, what, if he infects me?” He grimaced, as if he was face to face with a skunk.
“Yes, son, let us move,” she said, hastily buying some facial creams, and throwing a disgusted look at the boy, she staggered away on her stilettos, while the boy watched from the side of the extreme end of the second shelf, and the stout shopkeeper, picked up a Munch chocolate and munched away in anticipation of his lunch.
Sunday was just a few hours away.
Pic courtesy: Santosh Bakaya
More to read in Morning Meanderings
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