At the right-hand corner where the lane enters the street, I stand sipping my morning cuppa. Fragrance of hot Dosa from the corner teashop waft into my nose and my mouth waters; I debate over a very early breakfast. A pushcart is parked by the side of the footpath. It looks like a miniature mobile forest; green leaves of several kinds are arrayed on the cart. I recognize Coriander, Curry, Fenugreek and Mint. There are a few more. They all look so fresh and clean and hugely edible. I conjure up visions of green chutneys and then decide I must have those Dosas, even though I am yet to brush my teeth. The aroma of the green leaves is so heady that I tremble like a dipsomaniac aching for his first shot of the day.
The vendor of the green leaves is a young boy of 14 or 15. After attending a customer, he walks back and sits down on a small plastic stool beside me. Street dogs of different sizes, shapes, hues and colours loiter; some investigate the piles of garbage, some sun themselves in the morning light.
As I watch, a mutt runs up from across the street. His muzzle is black and eyes, brown. The copper coloured fur is offset with black floppy ears. Sprightly, he trots up with springy steps, insouciant to the passing vehicles. He runs up straight to the boy-vendor, sits on his haunches and raises his forelegs in a greeting. The mutt’s eyes glitter with laughter. The boy mumbles something. The dog sits down, looks up at the boy and smiles. I could sense the dog’s gurgling happiness. Suddenly, as if he could not contain his excitement anymore, the dog jumps up and humps the boy’s leg, gripping his thigh with forelegs. He jerks vigorously for a few seconds. The boy raises his hand as if to strike the dog, but the dog doesn’t flinch or cower. He climbs down, sits and laughs up at the boy. The boy doesn’t strike him; instead he just ruffles the dog’s head. I realize that this is a morning ritual these two old friends have been playing every day for a long time.
A customer turns up at the pushcart; the boy goes over. I watch the dog. Love, as bright as sunshine, glints in his eyes as they follow the boy. I feel justified in my existence as well as in an early morning indulgence in Dosas.
********* Balachandran V ,