Makeovers don’t just happen in TV soaps. A sudden inspiration or a cupid strike can catapult a person to a ‘new improved’ state.
Enjoy Morning Meanderings Season 2 with your hot cuppa and cookies. ☕🍪😊
My eyes refused to leave his prosperous paunch. It wobbled a merry wobble every time someone dropped coins in his mustard oil filled container.
It was a indeed a fun filled exercise for me – looking at his happily throbbing midriff, his furtive peeking into the steel can half – filled with oil, mentally counting the number of coins continuously filling his treasure trove. With every sound, his eyes sparkled, his paunch did a little jig and his chant became a bit louder, ‘Shani Maharaj!’
This mammoth mannikin
Adored the happy din
Of his can tinkling
His eyes crinkling
As his lips broke into a grin.
Even when he looked expectantly in my direction, and was disappointed, he continued to smile and chant Shani Maharaj in a louder voice, looking at the world go by in its myriad hues. Luck could come in any shape, so he had to look sharp.
Why would such a robust looking man, well-oiled and well scrubbed (I bet, his oil inventory management involved keeping 50% aside for scrubbing himself) resort to such organised alms collection? I often wondered.
He sat on a chair in almost regal splendour, now and then patting his table top midriff, looking expectantly at the walkers and joggers, and singing a happy tune when someone showed extra magnanimity. And can you believe it, there was a hand painted board on his side which said ‘Shani Maharaj’ and also an arrow pointing in his direction. Many a time he had greeted me with a robust, ‘Good Morning Madam’ . Of course, he did not expect me to show any magnanimity.
The gullible willingly dropped coins in his container adding to his twinkle, his wobble and his well-oiled wealth in the can – but not me!
But nonetheless, he smiled in my direction – in a friendly manner, not in an expectant manner. And I smiled back, quickening my pace, lest he hollered behind me for showing a little generosity.
Yes, every Saturday, he would be there – a permanent fixture under the shady neem tree, doing brisk business, his stomach providing full wobbly support, his eyes twinkling away in merriment. But this was before things turned bad and my morning walks abruptly ended.
When I renewed my morning walk this year, this representative of Shani Devta could not be seen on any Saturday. Where had he disappeared? Where had that wobble, that twinkle, that smile vanished?
Today morning, as I walked on, looking at the dark clouds, hoping that it wouldn’t rain before I reached home, I heard a voice behind me.
“Good Morning, Madam!”
I whirled back to find myself face to face with a handsome lad, bulging biceps and a well-toned figure. Was he an old student or some other acquaintance, I wondered.
Then he smiled.
As I bent down to pick up my fallen jaw, he bent down too – to touch his toes! He was now doing vigorous push ups and toe touching exercises.
‘Yeh kya haal bana rakha hai?’ He probably read this question hovering on my lips and said, “My fiancée, who is a graduate, studying for her B Ed, absolutely disapproved of my ways. She put me on this regimen.”
He smiled anew, touching his toes with an effortless ease – because there was no mammoth paunch coming in the way.
His face still glowed – but not with the sparkle of oil, but with the glow of hard labour.
“By the way, I am also a graduate,” he said, and handed me a card. ‘Rukmani Grocery Store,’ it said in neon multi-colour on shining plastic. ‘Free Home Delivery’ sparkled in a booming orange star with 5 different fonts used in that space.
“I have opened a grocery story in the vicinity, and Rukmani is my fiancée’s name.” The smile glowed on his face as bright as the neon card but without the oil spill.
“Oh, that is great!” I smiled brightly too.
“Do come for the inauguration, Madam. I will remind you.”
“Yes,” I said with a reassuring smile and turned back to find him still touching his toes. The way he showed respect to his new self by touching his toes at regular intervals impressed me.
Honestly, I did miss the wobble of his merry paunch. But the bloated clouds above were all a wobble and tumble.
I hurried home, marvelling at the ‘New Improved’ package of former Mr Oil Spill and the drastic reduction in his equator. After all, when Cupid strikes, anything can happen. And the clouds once again roared in mirth.
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