Sabiha Rizvi’s short story captures a slice of life that often goes unnoticed in the hullabaloo of life unfolding around us.
His parched lips and sweat-dripping eyebrows were tired. It was 1 o’clock but he had not yet made his first earnings of the day. The cheap leather, bought only that day for Rs. 25, hung at his side, unused and untouched. The green colour of his shirt had faded to a light shade of blue. The bright sunshine of the summer days worked prejudicially against him, so he thought. Though it made the tree enlarge its crown under which Nandu had his provisional kiosk comprising of a few bamboo sticks and a cloth stuck at the tips of those sticks, it also made his iron last absorb so much of heat that his fingers would usually hesitate before touching it after a lapse of a few minutes or so. The shimmering sun made his customers curl up against bolsters at their homes while fiddling with the idea of postponing their intended trip to the market. And yes, the sun made his clothes weaker and so his spirit. Sitting under that tree while waiting for his customers, he had often wondered about the sunlight. That afternoon too, he weighed the pros and cons of the role that the sun played in his arduous life. He then yawned emphatically and threw his arms towards the sky as part of a slothful stretch. He was exhausted of the daily routine that bore him and all its other followers only about a hundred rupees or so in a day. He was readjusting himself when something caught his attention.
He sat observantly while controlling his anticipation. ‘Oh yes! She is coming towards me. She looks like she belongs to the middle class. But oh, doesn’t matter. She is looking towards my kiosk. There are some prospects for me here. Well, her brown puny handbag doesn’t seem to weigh much but still, I can expect something from it. It would be insolent not to respect any prospective blessing of Goddess Lakshmi, howsoever paltry it may seem. Moreover, that handbag surely needs my help. How defenceless it looks with its interfacing undone at the corner and those tilting sliders! I can hear their voices calling out to me. Oh! There’s another louder voice.’ His eyes now travelled down through the lady’s shoulder to her well-draped sari and then down to her sandals. Nandu grew more optimistic to find another pair of leather wear upon the lady’s body that he could have dealt with. ‘She must surely be coming this way. Her sandals really need my treatment. How can this lady live without getting those tired ones cured?’ He felt buoyant.