Saturday, April 18, 2009
The chocolate – A short story
“Please mom” pleaded the kid. Her 8 year old eyes were yearning for the milk chocolate that was sitting on the window sill of the shop in a beautiful glass jar. It had a royal blue wrapper with silver letterings that stood out claiming the chocolate to be “Richer smoother & milkier”. The wrapper even had a gold lining that caught the dull light of the sun shrouded by the rain clouds and dazzled. The small girl would have given anything in exchange to have a piece of that chocolate. Anything – anything including the best of her toys, the color ribbons that she loves to play with, to the Mickey and Donald cartoon stickers that she loves sticking on her note books. She was lovelorn with that chocolate. And for her that was enough to push her to desperation.
She tugged at her mother’s sari* and once again pleaded with all her heart thrust into her voice.
Her mother gave her a smile and a 5 rupee coin to get the chocolate and resumed her gossip with the other mothers who have come to the school to take their children home. The school was one of the most recognized in the city and most of the locality children studied there. It was a magnificent building with a white facade, airy corridors, spacious well lit classrooms and it housed a large playground that was bordered by shady banyan trees. The success of every single market is based on the factors of nearness and need to sell their products and the variety of shops, stationeries and malls that outlined the school made the best profitable use of that single fact. It was in one of those shops that the kid found her favorite milk chocolate being sold.
The girl jumping with glee the moment she got the money in her hands, ran up to the shop and gave the shop keeper the money and pointed to the chocolate. The shop keeper shook his head returning the money saying that the chocolate costs 15 more rupees. With dashed hopes, the kid stood there for a moment not knowing what to do. The kind shop keeper leaned forward and with a warm voice said “why don’t you get me 15 more rupees and I will keep one chocolate especially for you” and gave her enthusiastic wink. The girl with renewed energy went back to her mom who was just finishing up with her gossiping.
And just as she was about to ask her mom for more money, it started to drizzle.
A beautifully stunning virgin of a drizzle that laughed, sang and danced around the skies with the splash of spectrum trailing along on its tail came rushing to the ground lost in the lovely moment like a girl rushing out to meet her man returning from the war. The dry, virile ground proudly jutted out to embrace the warmness of the touch as the cold fingers of the drizzle drenched and soaked its surface with love. Blatantly orgasmic was the plethora of colors, tastes, senses and pleasures as the rain and the earth held each other in their arms cajoling with one another, fighting with each other, peppering one another with baby kisses, losing themselves in the sensuality of holding and being held. The beauty of their union was simply splendidly fantabulous.
But alas like everyone else who scattered away when it rained, the girl and her mom too rushed off to their homes missing the orchestral performance of the century. The girl’s mind still hung over the chocolate of which she was determined to ask her mom when they reached home. The drizzle hit her face pretty hard as she sat behind her mom holding to her tightly as her mother sped the scooter towards home. After a few minutes of driving and tussling they reached their destination. The small girl got down from the scooter, ran to the door and shrieked in delight. Her father who obviously did not share her exuberance waiting there completely sodden by the rain. The kid disappointed with her father’s response sat there long faced trying to get off her wet shoes.
Her mother opened the door and both her parents went inside. Her father who fell upon the couch the instant he got inside the hall started to remove his tie.
“Why the hell did you not give the key to the neighbors when you went out???” He shouted at his wife. “I have been waiting here for almost an hour getting drenched in the rain!!!”
“How was I to know that you will come back home today early? Am I Houdini or what?? His wife answered back in a calm tone. “And don’t you blame me for this. You forgot your keys this morning and so you stood out. Period”
Her father frustrated and angered with the attitude from her mom tried to forget it by immersing himself into the sports channel in the television. Her mom helped her to dry herself and put on new clothes. The girl was pulsating with the urge to tell her mom about the money she needed for the chocolate but she knew that it was a bad time to do so with her mother busy doing chores and her father absorbed in his sports. So she waited. She waited until it was dinner time. Until they were just half way through the dinner and then told them about the chocolate.
After patiently listening to her, her mother assured her that she will get her the chocolate when she comes to pick her tomorrow. The girl completely satisfied slept sound that night when it rained cats and dogs outside.
She just couldn’t wait for the next evening to come and to have her hands on the chocolate. She was on her best behavior in the school, did the home work during the interval itself, helped the teacher to collect the notes, she even tried to be good to the boy who always teased her. Her mind was preoccupied with the chocolate and the evening that it gave her the heart to be her best. The day wore beautifully – the teacher had put an “excellent” remark in her note, she had the best time playing with her friends, she had even picked up a pure white pigeon feather that she always wanted from the playground and she was going to have the best chocolate in the world in the evening.
Life couldn’t be more beautiful. By the evening she was feeling completely exhausted.
But she was too happy to notice it. She is going to get the chocolate. She marched up to her mother and held out her hand with a flourish. Her mother’s smiling face disappeared as she felt her daughter’s extended hand. It was burning, burning with fever. She scooped up her daughter in her arm, seated her on the scooter and accelerated towards the nearby hospital with a speed and concern that only a mother could rival. The girl was torn apart as she saw the receding figure of the shop and the half empty milk chocolate glass bottle disappearing in a haze of human activity as the vehicle sped along the road.
After checking, the doctors diagnosed it as viral fever and they advised hospitalization for a couple of days. They assured that she would be fine as the disease was at the starting stage and if treated properly she would be back to normal before tomorrow morning. Her father and mother sat beside her bed holding her hands trying to whisper into her ears that all would be well soon. Agonized they were at seeing their precious little daughter lying helpless and prostrate on the hospital bed but they tried not to show it to her. The night fell in solemn whispers as the cold evening wind blew its way past the hospital.
The little girl laid there on the bed dreaming. Milk chocolates were falling from the sky all around her but kept vanishing when she tried to pick them off from the ground. She kept at it for a while until she was exhausted. She was almost in tears. Then suddenly the raining stopped and out of the blue came the half filled chocolate jar. It laughed at her taunting her to catch it and however much she tried to catch the jar, it rolled out of her reach and with each of her failure to catch the jar, one chocolate disappeared from it. She felt cheated, disappointed and utterly let down. She started to cry.
Her father noticed the tears first. He checked her temperature. It was returning to normal. He slowly woke up his daughter caressing her cheek. She woke up with a start and seeing her father in front of her, she hugged him tightly. Her father held her stroking her back with his calm voice reassuring her – “It’s just a dream honey. Nothing more………….. It’s just a dream.” She slowly drifted back to a dreamless deep sleep.
After 4 days at the hospital, she returned home in with her health restored. She went to school the next day and when the evening came she begged her mother to give her money for the chocolate. Her mother was reluctant to get her the chocolate keeping in mind their last episode at the hospital. But the girl won’t hear of it. She wanted the chocolate desperately, it has become an obsession of her to get her hands on that chocolate and she was not going to give up easily. She pleaded with her mom who gave in at last after she promised not to eat the chocolate until tomorrow. She will just get the chocolate just for keep’s sake now.
With the money tightly held in her hand and her mother walking beside her, the kid in the best spirits walked towards the shop. Finally she was going to get the chocolate.
Then as she neared the shop the kid saw that the jar was empty. Oh no….. She started to run towards the shop with her eyes on the jar. Yes….. Yes…… Yes…… There was still one single chocolate in the jar. She increased her pace. But ……. Oh my….. Oh my…… Someone else was buying it. She was at her wits end. Her heart was pounding and her feet were aching. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It couldn’t end like this. She loved that chocolate. She wanted that chocolate. She reached the shop and with tears streaming down her eyes, she looked at the empty jar and then at the last piece of that chocolate as the guy who brought it slowly walked away. The kid stood there crushed and battered. It has been too much for her.
She did not cry out loud nor did she try to make a scene. She did not care. Tears swelled and flowed glistening across her pinkish face.
Her mother sat down beside her not knowing what to do. She tried to calm her. But the girl was not listening. She was simply staring at the empty jar. Her mother stood up, went to the shop keeper and asked about where else she could get the milk chocolate. Then she asked the shop keeper to look after her daughter for a while and rushed off in her scooter to get the damn chocolate.
God has his fun playing with you when you least expect it and when you are least equipped to face it. He taunts you, piles up problems in you, blocks your every exit pushing you to your extreme limits. No matter how much you pray, no matter how much faithful you are, no matter how many times you have played the Good Samaritan, no matter whether you are a Catholic or a Protestant or a Hindu or a Jew or a Muslim or even an atheist for that matter – he rarely cares. May be he is just caught up a bit having too much of fun or may be there isn’t even a god for that matter. But who cares. It feels good to have somebody to turn to when things become too heavy to bear.
After searching for almost forty minutes without any success, her mother in her mind was praying for such deliverance to no avail. Her mother just didn’t have the heart to return to her empty handed but had no other choice. She didn’t really know how she was going to face her daughter. She didn’t really know what she was going to say to her to console her. She drove her scooter slowly towards the shop with a heavy heart.
When she got there, she parked the vehicle and entered the shop. She had no idea how what she was going to say to daughter. She was then quite a bit shocked to see her daughter squealing with peals of laughter. In her right hand she had a large candy and with her left she was trying to stop the shop keeper from tickling her belly. Her face lit up when she saw her mom and came rushing to greet her. She bobbed up and down as she told her how the shop keeper has taught her a new game that was so cool, how the new vanilla candy the shop keeper gave was very very sweet and showed with flourish the brand new Mickey Mouse stickers he had given her. The kid was deliriously drunk with happiness.
She never did get the milk chocolate that she so much yearned for.
But still she survived.
And life went on.
The snap is of my favorite niece and I thought this snap in a way, projected the story well. And yeah she too loves chocolates.(I think it's something genetic in my family that makes us all addicted to chocolates including myself. :))