Once upon a time there was a boy. He was a good boy. He had those eyes that rivalled suns. He had a forehead with little space for anything but overgrown locks of hair and transient evidences of frowns. It was a good forehead.
He was an extraordinary boy. He was bound for greatness. He would come to do great things as a man, perhaps command an army that would win him many wars, but not the usual kind of army or the usual kind of wars. He would come to be a good brother, a good son. He would grow up to be a good man, a good husband, a good father. Yes, he was bound for greatness, if the Lord from Whose Hand such things flow, willed it.
But for now, there he was.
Beside him, there was a table. It was filling up with desserts quickly. They were of different kinds. The boy was watching people bring more and more desserts to the table. He stopped watching the people after a while. He could not take his eyes off the sweets. There were chocolate chip cookies – the crunchy and mushy kinds – and coffee cake, and pound cake and walnut bars and kheer and sheer khurma and gulab jamun. The gulab jamun filled his eyes – like planets revolving around his solar pupil, drawn to it by gravity, destined to circumambulate and succumb to the heat of its gaze.
The boy waited till everyone went away from the table. When they had gone, he walked up to the table, removed the lid from the corning ware that held the gulab jamun and set it aside. He then picked up one sphere with his right hand and put it in his mouth. He pushed it in until the syrup-laden ball pressed into the back of his mouth and shrunk as the syrup drenched his tongued and flowed down his gullet. With his left hand, he picked up a second sphere and stuffed it into the right cheek, pushing it in firmly so that it sat lodged behind the rows of shiny teeth. Then with both hands he picked up a third sphere and placed it in this mouth allowing it to find whatever space it could to coexist with the others. Then he wiped his hands on his shirt and turned around.
There she was. A woman. She was the hostess.
She looked at the boy. Her mouth fell open. The boy looked at her. His cheeks bulged dangerously.
There was no room to move his jaws, but he chewed anyway. A little syrup escaped from a corner of his mouth. The woman stared. The boy tired of looking at the lady and ran away. She stood there a moment. Then she laughed. Something clanged somewhere and someone shrieked in laughter and the atmosphere of the party made them both forget everything.
But I wrote it all down for you.
Taken from my growing collection of short stories with a working title of Hawker’s Point and Other Boyhood Tales.