I watched absently as he set his small establishment alongside the busy street, across from where I sat with my coffee. It consisted of a charcoal fuelled stove, long and cylindrical, black with soot. Beside that stood a high chair, with legs and cushion also sooty black. A table completed the establishment where a weigh-scale was the only prominent thing I could see from far.
The flames were licking the brim of the huge ‘kadai’ filled with oil, and while it was heating the man went about doing his routine work. He wiped clean the vessels and walked around the stove, adding wooden blocks into the fire. Occasionally he would disappear into the shop nearby and come out with something handy like a pail of water to damp the dust around the stove.
Buses groaned past, and motorcycles whizzed leaving him and is establishment in smog of grey; but the flames continued to heat whatever was cooking inside and the man continued to await his customers. When people walked slowly past, he would quickly stand next to the high stove and pretend to be busy making his delicacies. And when they walked off his shoulders would slump slightly and perk up again at the next visitor.
As I watched him abandon his establishment again, a grandpa with his grandson paused at the roadside delicacy shop. The boy tugged and conversed and the grandpa though not ignoring, proceeded to look all about for the owner. He scanned the set up, it was fairly flawless for the man had spent close to an hour cleaning it, but he didn’t wait for long. Hushing the boy he walked on, and didn’t look back, not even once.
Maybe if he did, he would’ve seen the owner scuttle back to his place, eyeing everything on the counter to make sure nothing was stolen. Maybe then he could’ve walked back and gotten the fried delicacies that his grandson wanted. But that didn’t happen. The man got back to stirring the oil, turning the kadai so that its contents got even heat. I could swear on my eyesight that in doing so the flames kissed his tanned fingers but the man didn’t flinch a bit. He continued to tame and kindle the fire betting his business on a few glances of the passer-by just like the ones the grandpa didn’t turn back to give.
When we see ourselves in comparison with others, there's an element that tends to hype our issues and achievements more than others. We don't see how life has it out for others and how these people lead their lives in full acceptance despite what they weren't given. So the next time out on the street, lets take in the world around us instead of bustling about. It might just give us a reassuring feeling that all's under control with our lives and there are in fact people who depend on us.Our lives are better.