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A Hundred Gourds 5:2 March 2016

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page 12  

Yesha Shah – India


Embers


Each morning, tooting its bulb horn, my school auto-rickshaw trundled down the lane. With registration number 786, the auto belonged to Abdul chacha, our rickshaw-wala. We called him a gentle giant, for he towered above us at over six feet in height, had a hefty build and sported a long beard. Clad in buff or pale grey pathani suits and a white netted skull cap, he smiled a lot but seldom spoke.

We were a dozen squabbling kids from grades one to seven who took turns to sit on the driver’s seat, either side of him. Since this was flouting of the traffic rules, he would take a short detour if a traffic policeman was spotted at the crossroads. Lollipop candies every Saturday, sweets on Eid and ice creams on the last working day before the term break; Abdul chacha loved to treat us.

One winter night the wrath of communal fires incinerated the city. Life came to a curfewed standstill for a month. All the parents unanimously decided that the services of Abdul chacha should be terminated. Sometimes we saw him with his trademark smile waiting at the local rickshaw stand.

white school dress
a rainbow of
pouch popsicles

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