A roadside market in Uttar Pradesh – Part I

Posted: January 19, 2014 in A roadside market in Uttar Pradesh, Short stories, starts & writing

Red Mite

“Bir Bahuti, Mister! A good aphrodisiac! Cures the paralysed too, na!” That’s what the man from Chhattisgarh had told me. But I was too far gone for this little red mite’s help now. No prospect of the former being of any use to me any time soon anyway. Assistance with my state of stupefaction perhaps, yes. That I could use. But oil from the scarlet rain bug couldn’t help me now because I was made of stone. A swirling, nauseating chaos and vertigo belying my outward appearance of frigid paralysis, I could only stand there looking at my feet. I was unable to raise my eyes to watch her leaving. Shani Surya: blindingly beautiful, the most amazing girl I had ever met and I was helpless to stop her disappearing from my life. Instead, I simply stared at the little red creature crawling by my foot on the unevenly-paved, dusty-fallow roadside.

“Jaldi karo, koi!” someone shouted above the chatter and bustle of the roadside market behind me. “Hurry up!”
“Don’t worry,” came the reply. “Chinta mat karo! Ye lo,” and a cow bellowed somewhere.
Mania-inducing cicadas screeched in the haze of an off-white, glaringly-hot sky, and yet a chill had settled on me like the onset of flu.
The battered old bus farted to life with a ripping burst of jet-black smoke and the rain bug tumbled headlong into the gap between two pavers. As the bus pulled away I managed to heave my head up just enough to catch the uneasy glance from the man with the ridiculous little Randhir Kapoor moustache. Clutching a fist full of rupee notes, he hung from the back door of the bus, and he knew exactly what was happening. Everyone could tell.
“Vaha ēka magga hai, na?” I averted my gaze, looked back at my feet. “He’s a fool.”

The rain bug regained its footing, continued on its determined way, and Shani Surya was gone.

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