EVENING-HAWKER

“Naariyal ladoo…Amaavat..Chiniya bèdaam”
It’s been over a decade I last saw him; the evening hawker.

Those were days when we relied on neighbour’s telephone and the PCO to contact our relatives. The initial years of the century, my house on the outskirts of a beautiful Indian town; Hazaribagh. Those years, barely ten houses stood in that terrain surrounded by forests and the enchanting Kanhari Pahar (Kanhari Hill) though in a decade the region was to be far more populated.

The Colony had none but a Gumti, a Small shop. Toffees-Chocolates were not a routine commodity, it came with visitors or at times with parents.
This is why, the evening hawker was no less a V.I.P. for we kids. Clad in all white Dhoti-Kurta, he had a treasure in his bamboo tokri, basket, which he carried on his head. Every Thursday evening, he arrived, with a bell in hand. The jingle-pitch higher, his strides smaller, and his call ‘Naariyal Ladoo..’ more articulate outside my house in particular.
I was probably seven or eight. With all the innocence I had, I would plead my parents for money and permission. A ‘Yes’ and I would run barefoot shouting, ‘Naariyal Ladoo, ruko…’ stop. A ‘No’ and I would stand on the yard-gate with the expressions of a bad exam-result,which my hawker understood with the mutual bond we shared.
Age was gripping him. He didn’t come for long, I expected him every evening for weeks, but he eventually faded from my memory.

It’s been years.  The grass patch of the yard drowned beneath bricks.Noise, which once arose curiosity has become a habit. Moonlight hid behind the LED lights.
But my Hazaribagh yet holds its beauty and simplicity and one of my first Childhood friends; the evening hawker, perhaps, he is dead.

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