If I lay here, If I just Lay here,
Would you lie with me, and Just forget the world?
-chasing cars, Snow patrol
Wahad kept the best tangerines under the crumpled newspaper, as he sat down with his fruit baskets. He lit a thick incense stick, the perfume of which floated through his wares and the marketplace, warding of flies and ill-luck.
His turban was wrapped with painstaking perfection, and he had taken a moment to dab a little atar behind his left ear lobe for today was Thursday.
On Thursdays, exactly at eight o’clock, the professor saab’s daughter who lived on next the street would come rushing down this path, her dupatta buffeting in the wind as she clutched a handful of books, jamming them hurriedly in her bag as she rushed through the busy marketplace in her floral chappals. She would stop for a split second before his shop, her startling white hand would thrust a wrinkled note in his direction as she said in her broken hindi- “Bhaiya, do santra dijiye na”
For a second he would be arrested by the perfectly shaped nails,the gleaming bangles on her wrist before he took the money, saving it carefully in a different box.
He would hand her the specially saved oranges in a packet as a hundred thoughts ran through his mind; desperately wondering if his hair looked too slick, if he had shaved under his chin- or if the perfume was too strong.
The entire week’s resolve would melt away, and he wouldn’t dare to meet her gaze as he held out oranges that cost twice the amount she paid, but he had never bothered to ask for more.
It was his gift, he would tell himself with gentle pride. He would laugh at his trembling hands, calling himself a fool as he watched her walk away.