19.2.14

The tales of Jeroo: The daily bread

(I'm tempted to make Jeroo a regular feature. She's ... interesting.)


She often joked that people were like dough - quick to rise when warm, sluggish and flat when cold; needing some external stimulus to really discover their potential; and evetually available in a multitude of forms and colours and textures.

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Jeroo Dalal's day began with the bell of the paowallah's cycle.

For years, the tring-tring-pause-tring had been her only morning alarm.  A gentle tune of promise, of joy, sounding clarion in the soft dawn. She couldn't say when it had stopped being a chore and turned into a comfortable routine;

the shuffle onto her bedroom balcony, a quick peek up at the sky, a quick peek down to wave back at his smiling face, waiting at the door till he sauntered up, the standard whispered pleasantries, the ek-haath-le-ek-haath-de, the farewell salaams, and then, and then, hastily shutting her door, almost-nuzzling her prize and inhale 

the warmth and freshness and yeastiness, tracing the tendrils back to the big ovens and the utilitarian spaces they were produced in, full of men moving with the grace and ease and boredom of practiced certainty in a job not-entirely-stultifying, gradually building up their internal tempo for the working rush that would soon sweep in, bleary eyes waking up by each sip of double-boiled lacticated tannin, too-lazy uncoiling muscles adding to the clatter, tinkle, slurp, tinkle, thump, scrape, do chai teen maska-pao table chaar pachaas rupiah that slowly filled the whole place up in a giant mush of fermented hopes and dreams and ponderings that would filter out across the city as each departee unspooled away a bit of that perpetually-refuelled essence of what this city was built on

and exhale.

Then, before putting it away in the dented old aluminium dabba, she would bite off a chunk from the six-pack, still wrapped in paper. 

And in the silence of faint snores and little scrapings, slowly feeling the spongy texture melt inside and swell her up, she would learn to believe again, to hope again, to chin-chin-up.

Smiling, Jeroo Dalal would then prepare to take on the world.

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