Egg and Hope

I was recently transferred to a small town. On the way back from my office, a railway crossing would make me halt for few minutes.


Every day, I would challenge myself to spend those two-three minutes without my phone.


Most days, my panorama would start from a teenage tea seller and I would think about his destitute. He would look back at me with his eyes full of hope and I would look away from him, my eyes landing on the big cake shop on the other side of crossing.


It was the Allah’s way of putting a barrier between the fats and my fate. I would spend next ten seconds trying not to think about cakes. I would then look at my paunch and tell myself to go home and have nutrient-rich diet.


Watching the crossing operator standing there with his green flash lights for what seemed like forever, I would take my phone out and enter the world held in the confines of the phone screen.


“Oh, we are the slaves of technology!” I would type into my e-journal every day and then close it with that very same post every time.


One day when I finished my entry in the journal, the barrier did not open. Apparently, another train was yet to pass.


“Wow, a surprise test!” I told myself as I put my phone back in the pocket.


As I browsed through the other sections, I saw something strange. An old man sat behind his cart, away from the crowd of all the vendors in the marketplace. The strange part was that his cart was empty except for some half-dozen eggs.


I noticed him the next day and the day after as well.


“Has he sold all the eggs?” I used to ask myself.


I had never seen more than a dozen eggs in his cart.


One evening, I saw there were no eggs remaining in his cart, and yet he held to his position with a smile.


“Can I ask you something?” I asked him as my curiosity took over my mind, and he nodded.


“I see you every evening. Your cart carries eggs. But today, there are none.”


“That is not a question, son,” he said, looking into my eyes.


“Have you sold all of them? If yes, then why are you not going home?”


“No, I have plenty left.”


“Sorry, but I do not see any eggs.”


“Oh, I do not sell eggs.”


“Pardon me?”


“Few years ago, this neighbourhood was burnt down in a communal violence. People were too scared to start the business again. Children began to cultivate weed, sell it and consume it. It was horrific. I decided to sell hope to them. I went to them and talked to them. But it did not work. I then realised that I needed a shop to sell something. Since then, I have been selling hope in my tiny cart. People thought that I am an old man high on weed. But I stood the test of time and the result is conspicuous. Now look at these young men with their big shops,” the old man waved his hand at the marketplace.


“May I know your name?


“Pranay Khan,” the old man replied. His eyes beamed with pride.


“I am sorry, are you a Hindu or a Muslim?” I asked hesitantly.


“I was born a Hindu. A young Muslim girl was left with no family. She had no place to go; no one to care of. But these people won’t let me take her.”


“So, you converted to marry her,” I said more to myself than to him.


“I adopted her. That was no age for me to marry. More importantly, that was no age for her to marry. It is time for me to go. May Jesus bless you,” he said.


“Wait, just one last question,” I said and the old man stopped.


“What’s with the eggs?”


“Oh, these are for my shop,” he said and pointed to the cake shop that I had been avoiding all along.

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