“Maachis!” And Imran would come and light your cigarette and go back to fetch the tray full of chai in yellow-blue stained glass. Sometimes, he would fetch the newspapers for the customers who sprawled on the wild green lawns drinking tea and smoking, and then meticulously fold them for the next reader. He would wash the dishes in the sultry afternoons, when the stall didn’t have any customers. And then he would cycle back to home, but making sure he came back within half an hour.

Imran is seven, and strong. He can half-pedal a cycle faster than anyone else in his neighborhood. His mom waits with chai and bread, Imran’s lunch, under the shadow and soot of the stove. He eats fast, dip his loaf in the chai. His mother tells him stories of movies and mayhem, he listens.

The gods watch them. They grow weary and burdened with the sadness their shoulders droop. The heavens in turn cannot bear the weight of the saddened gods, and explode in rainbow rains. Little silver pieces fall all over men who look up in awe and happiness.

All, save Imran. Imran, under the roof of his shanty, hugs his mom, and cycles back to the stall. And he doesn’t look back at the million little dazzling pieces that line the grass today. Like dew, he tramples on them, looking straight with his black beady eyes. “Maachis!”

Imran is seven, and strong.

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