Some time last week, I was doing my writing at the desk by the window and Re was rearranging his toys in the cupboard while flirting with his shadow as the evening sun came streaming in, when I suddenly heard a rrrrrring which almost sounded like the ice-cream man of yore. Sure that it was some sort of drilling somewhere, and yet hopeful that it wasn’t, I leaned out the window.
There he was, a chakku-chhuriwala, on his fancy cycle, sharpening knives with a deep fervour, and sending off those musical notes, as he pedalled away. In this day and age, I never thought I could show this to Re, what with corner shops being gobbled up and malls being the order of the day. An actual knife sharpener!
I was thrilled! He was entranced. It was a first.
Today’s children have been born in an era of excesses. Of over-consumerism, over-stimulation, over-knowhow and over-technology. It isn’t their fault, they didn’t choose it. But it might be easy to slip into the glitz and they would never know what life is like elsewhere. Wherever that is.
Which is why I am grateful to the old and rather crumbling building that I live in. To me, the chakku churiwala and the bhajiwala and the kurmura wala and the khaari wala who come to my doorstep are like detox. For me and Re. The OPU is very clear he doesn’t want to be a part of this circus, he is unabashedly a mall-rat.
Don’t get me wrong. Malls are convenient, at least when you have a child. They have aisles, they have trolleys, they have air-conditioning. Some days, when I run out of ideas, I wheel him around in a trolley in the mall. It’s a visual buffet for him and a stock-up-on-the-essentials-and-the-utterly-useless for me.
But there is something about our daily date with our door-step sabziwala.Every morning as he unloads his basket, Re gives him a high-five and proceeds to play with the array of aubergines, cucumbers and spring onions and is rewarded a carrot. Nadia, my feline first-born stealthily makes off with a tomato right under the bhajiwala’s nose and earns a spank from me. It’s bonding of a different kind.