I just smiled

She was a sweet little thing. In her flowery tresses and hippety-skippety-jumpy attitude, with a spring in her feet and a twinkle in her eye. The whole world seemed like a gift waiting to be unwrapped for her. Down the slope of the road she had come, her little fingers wrapped tightly around the firm hand of her father. Her five-year old self could barely contain the excitement of seeing so much happen together. It was festival time, and place was literally dazzling with colour and lights. The buzz of flashing electric bulbs, the humdrum of so many hawkers flashing their wares, of so many children doing their own merry-go-rounds and laughing and running about. It was all so lively! And she stared at everything with innocent wonder, flashing a puppy smile and trying to keep up with her father while she gaped at the myriad stalls on either side of the road.

The ice-cream vendor was doing average business --- fishing out strawberry candies and frozen choco-sticks for the bunch of giggling girls, occasionally haranguing with the boys from the high school who wanted 5 for the price of four. But this little angel who suddenly stood before his stall with one little hand clutching on to her father's palm stole his heart in a moment. His daughter was at home in his village: about the same age, she would probably be asking her mom right now why her father wasn't home for the festival yet. He couldn't go: he needed to earn money in these few days so that he could save up something and buy her a present for Diwali. But he couldn't help smiling at the angel as she turned and craned her neck to glimpse all the different colourful ice creams he was handing out. That little toothless smile that she threw back made his day immediately.

The father felt a little tug at his hand.
"Papa, can I have an ice cream please?", she asked: looking at the face of her father expectantly with those big dark eyes.
"Not now, dear... lets visit the murti* first. I'll buy you an ice cream when we come out, okay?"

She seemed satisfied at the offer. Off they came into the pandal** courtyard. The little one seemed a little upset that she could not look at the idols: there were so many tall adults walking around in front of her! So her father lifted her up on his shoulders, and her face lit up immediately. Following her father's example, she too joined her palms, struck them to her temple on her little face for some time, and squeezed her eyes shut. A little peek from an eye after a few moments told her that her father had still not opened his eyes: so she quickly shut her eyes close again and resumed the queer thing that she had found others doing: praying. Finally, her father seemed to stir, and a quick look told her that he was done with his prayers. She couldn't be happier --- finally for the ice cream, she thought. She too quickly did a rapidfire pronam roundup and looked around. The world seemed so much different from this height. One day she will enjoy this view for herself when she grew up, she told herself: there would be no need to complain that others weren't letting her see!

"Papa, who is this God, and why do we have to pray to him?"
The question had taken the father unawares. He was headed outside, the little girl still perched on his shoulders. And the question had come from above.
"We don't have to pray to him, beta", he said. "We pray to him because we love him, and we want him to take care of everyone we love and keep them happy".

The angel was lost in thought for a moment. "Okay, but who is he anyway?"

"Ah look: your ice cream!", the dad pointed out suddenly. The girl looked ahead across the crowd. "Yes yes... I want the pink one and the red one!!", she chirped. She was put down on the ground again: the drip from them could spoil the new shirt the father had worn that day. The dripping icy cold multi-flavoured colourful ice cream seemed so much more important to her than god right then. The vendor dug in really deep and brought out two good ice creams and handed them to her really carefully. She held one ice cream in each hand, and began licking them alternately, smudging her white cheeks and lips with the colour. The ice-cream vendor was happy: he saw the little one again. The girl was happy: she was too busy with the ice creams to think of anything else. The father was happy: he did not have to worry about his shirt or the weight and balance on his shoulders any more. I too was happy and smiling: funny how many things the ice creams can make us forget and how much happiness they can buy. I just smiled.

Comments

  1. Beautiful story. Very beautiful. I am very much intrigued by the ending line though :). Does it mean anything to us, or you just want to be ambiguous :D

    In any case, I especially loved the way you brought about the emotions of the girl and the ice cream wallah's observation. Superb.

    Keep such coming!

    Suyog

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  2. Nice, easy read. Keep 'em coming.

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  3. ...she shut her eyes close.... :-It should be closed

    Publish! Publish! The internet is too darned limited a medium!!!

    Loved it!

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  4. Supremus, thank you! The last line was supposed to speak for the narrator and what the father did to avoid a question. Well, thanks anyway.

    Gratisgab, :) Thanks!

    Wonderful Person, it is correct: it should be 'close'. Thanks, anyway :)

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  5. The description u gave here is so vivid n lively...almost close to being as real !!..I almost felt as walking besides the father-daughter duo !!...beautiful piece of writing.-Ms NMA

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  6. Great one! Sometimes, it is very difficult to answer the questions from children. They are direct yet cannot be given a simple answer.And, true! Icecream makes us forget many things and give so much more in return :)

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  7. Alpine Path, there you go! Yes, you got the last line right. And thanks, of course! :)

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  8. nice story...simple and uncomplicated, told just like it happens so many times, and yes, ice cream does make you forget little problems, or should I say melts them away? :)

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  9. wonderful! loved it.

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  10. Rachana, thank you... I'm honoured :)

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  11. A well written piece, doesn't feel like fiction, especially the last part. :)

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  12. Syrals, thanks. Am I supposed to read anything into the "doesn't feel like fiction" part? :)

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