It was early hours in the morning.But I was already in high spirit. That’s the best part about being a 10-year-old. You are so full of of energy and optimism all the time. The blue car was waiting on the road, in front of my house. I got into it. It was filled with my favorite people: my mom, her brother( also my uncle) :Ajay, and his family. “All set in?” “Yup..” I said rubbing my eyes. The sun was not up yet. A faint-pink glow with few patches of violet-colored clouds was what sky offered. As Ajay uncle drove on the highway, I breathed in the cool air. There was something relatively calm about it that made me tighten my jacket. We were heading to Belgaum-or Belagavi-city in Karnataka.
Couple of hours later, when few cars started showing up on the highways, Ajay uncle bellowed over the loud music “Who’s hungry?” “I am!” I screamed. Mom eyed me angrily. Of course, 5:30 am that day, I had blatantly refused to sip the warm cup of Bournvita she had offered. “Its too early to drink anything” That was my reply. We stopped at a roadside dhaaba. We weren’t the only customers. A bolero was already parked. Its occupants were sipping through coffees and yummy idlis. I screamed for an ice cream but of course mom butted in. “Coffee for him..” she told her brother, who winked at me.
I sipped the coffee, eying some kids of my age who had come selling roses. “Please take one! For your mom..” Said one of them approaching me with a red rose. I handed him the packet of biscuits I was eating; my mom was busy chatting. He stared at it, thinking for a minute and looked around. And then he took it, smiling. I smiled. It was time to get back in the car. After some time, Ajay uncle announced passing a box : “Ice cream cones for everyone!”
I was standing on the terrace from where I could see the theater building. My mom had told me about it. How she and Ajay used to go there every weekend after school and watch all the movies. She was born and brought up here. As the family got comfortable downstairs and cups were filled with lemon-ginger tea, I started feeling a bit sleepy. I yawned and eyed around. The city was getting crowded. Cycles and auto rickshaws started pouring in like ants. “Sleep-deprived are we?” I turned behind and saw Mihir. ” Little bit” I said and yawned again. “Do you mind a tour around?” “Why not” I said. Mom warned him not to feed me anything else, as I already had flattened rice with lemon pickle and I could still taste the lemon every time I swallowed.
As we walked down the streets, he asked me about my school and I walked him through with the art and craft and my limited knowledge about Indian states and world and cats and stuff. He listened patiently, smiling occasionally as we bustled through the busy streets. After a while, I told him I was thirsty and he offered to take me to a place best known for their milkshakes. I agreed and upon arrival, we both ordered for a Pista milkshake. He told them to add extra ice cream for me and I smiled. He told me how he and his friends, when in college, used o come here often after classes. Soon, it was time to head back. I licked on to the spoon and got up, holding his arm. He paid the bill at the counter and we walked all the way to his house. “I had the best milkshake ever!” I said hugging Ajay uncle, the minute I walked in. My mom eyed him “Mihir, I told you not to feed him anything!” “I was hungry too!” Mihir said, winking at me.
(Twelve years later, Belgavi)
I had a client meet and had booked a room in a hotel. Belgavi was more crowded this time. I scrolled down for Mihir in contacts and dialed. A couple of minutes later, after exchanging basic dialogues, I told him that I am in town. He was pleased and asked to come at his house and stay. I told him about the office work and might have to check out early hours of morning the very next day. He was silent for a while and then offered dinner at home. “Shreya loves cooking.You haven’t met her after the wedding I guess.! “
“That’s true” I said. “Okay ! I will come over. I hope its not trouble” I added.
“Please.. I know you love to eat home food! and Shreya’s a great cook” He added.
I thought for a while and asked him “Ummm…Are you free after an hour?” “Hmm…yes, I can take some time off.. Tell me!” “I was wondering whether we can have that famous Pista milkshake !” I added closing my eyes, feeling childish. There was silence for a while, and then I heard him laugh! “Of course…Lets do it!”