THE POPSICLE LOVE
Popsicle that Tom Sen had was melting in his hand. The paletero was regular these days passing through street at around 12.00 noon and Tom Sen had made it a point to purchase the cheapest of popsicle. The whole of north India was under intense heat wave. As if that was not enough, there was COVID 19 pandemic. It was spreading faster now. All had hopes the high temperature of that goes up to forty five degrees Celsius will render virus ineffective.
The family of Sens were traders and they boasted of their descendants who had entered trade in fourth century B.C. as they were sure that none had evidence to claim otherwise. The family loved money more than anything. They earned around rupees one hundred thousand per month, but were so frugal at spending that people believed that the business was in losses.
Grandfather of Tom Sen had always taught his progeny, what he claimed to have come down to him from one of their great grandfathers, that, “Money is more important than woman.”
He would say, “Sunny! If you worry for money, then you have money; if you have money, woman will stay; but if you don’t worry for money and worry for woman, money will betray.” The generations of Sens are following the advice of their ancestors and have come out successful businessmen.
The families living in the locality had self quarantined themselves once the State had through its advisories, doctors, various organizations and print media advised everyone to isolate from the rest of the world as the COVID 19 was highly infectious. The neighbors stopped seeing each other; love doves stopped meeting and budding love affairs were suspended till the pandemic. The surprise was when the ladies decided that married or not they would not sleep with their men.
Tom Sen had no one to meet except his family members for the last three days and they were quite boring. He did not like studies as it was not wealth generating for him. He had to watch movies to kill his time, but was soon disappointed with the services of various channels since they did not provide much of the free ones.
Efforts of Mr. Sen to have a girlfriend were unsuccessful since he was too apt in economics of his act. He wanted dividends for every penny he spent and in love there are no dividends. But this time it was different. He seriously calculated and concluded that he could be in love with her with lots of savings. No dating due to pandemic and when no dating then no gifts. It was the right time for love. It would be win-win situation.
So, Tom Sen was enamored by the beauty of the girl next door Ms. Jasmine. He had been coming across her for years but never did his eyes notice the beauty in her. She was eating pancake devotionally. That might be the reason for her being plumy. She was lovelier now.
The family of Jasmine had no history extending beyond three generations. All she claimed was that father of her mother was a sport person and now her mother was a sports woman. The father of Jasmine was employed with Revenue Department, known one for slush money, as Assistant and was respected as a gentleman for never demanding extra money. All had praise for him for being complacent with whatever was offered to him to facilitate the work. She had a younger brother who was twelve years and weighed fifty kilograms. He sometimes beat up boys and girls of the locality, so the children considering their own safety had boycotted him. The family had a strong bonding, though occasionally mother of Jasmine did beat her husband when she was drunk.
She was standing in the shade of a tree outside her house. There was total power failure. The dust storm had uprooted the electricity poles and trees throwing life out of gear for last two days.
Mr. Sen had a serious issue to deal with before falling in love. It was the mother of the young lady. She was a wrestler and never took it lightly if any man ever approached her daughter. She was omnipresent with her daughter. She had taught her daughter a lesson she thought was worth for all young ladies, “All men are worms. Don’t believe them. Either man should be your husband or must be ready to compensate.”
Mr. Sen first made sure that the elder lady was not at home. Then he waited for the young lady to glance towards him. As she glanced he gave a broad smile and without taking any chances waved towards her. Firstly she could not believe it but then composed herself and responded.
He called out, “Hi! How are you?”
She grinned, “Fine. How are you?”
He smirked, “It’s hot wave. This year it’s quite bad.”
“Yes! I was feeling suffocation inside. It’s nice to be in the shade (of tree).”
“Off! It’s cool, if there are no college. I never liked college.”
She laughed, “I too. It’s fine without college.”
The two were joyous to find themselves talking.
“Where are your parents?” He wanted to carry on. If the tempo broke she might leave.
She winced, “Hospital! Mom had fever last week. In hospital diagnosed with corona infection. The samples of dad were also positive but asymptomatic. Mom is admitted to hospital. Dad, bro and I are at home, quarantined.”
Mr. Sen saw her sulking, which made him sad. But what should he do now? Should he wait for quarantine period or abandon his love? Would it not be risky to meet her? Whatever may come, he would not leave her. He loved her and cowards have no business to be in love.
Sen noticed his popsicle had almost melted as he was talking to her, mesmerized by her beautiful eyes. He gobbled up whatever was left.
This sent her into laughter.
“It’s funny how you ate it?”
He loved to see her smile.
“The paletero comes every day. His cart has jingles. I will treat you with popsicle of your choice tomorrow. You will love it.”
She smiled. Having a feast from Sens was a challenging task.
He worried himself the whole night whether he should go with his love Jasmine or fear corona infection. How could he leave his Jasmine?
In order to assure his love that he was also sailing through same storm Sen concocted a lie, “I have returned from Delhi four days back and am also on self home quarantined. We can meet one another these days.”
The young lady turned crimson to know how much her lover loved her. She wanted to kiss him, but postponed it being too early.
She nodded and he assured to call her when the street vendor would come the next day. In the evening he was waiting for her to ascend to the terrace of her house. The anxious eyes were relaxed once she was there and he observed her keenly. As she walked her silhouette gave vivid contours of her curves which he had missed to observe all these years. He smiled to himself. It must be love blossoming and that too without unwanted expenses on dating. What could be more profitable?
That night the young lady jumped before the mirror to see her beauty. All were liars who minced no words calling her plumy.
“Oh! I am gorgeous and cute. That is why he loves me.” She smiled.
She sighed how she had gone along with her mother in beating young men who had followed her, having lost opportunity to be loved. She would not let this man go.
The paletero came in the noon and Sen called out aloud much against the requisite etiquette, “Jasmine! Come out. Popsicle!”
She was there in no time. A glimpse of your love for as economical as rupees fifty could have sent any man of means to joy. She took the popsicle and thanked him. Pointing towards the sun she smiled, “I will get sun burn. I will see you from the window. Bye.”
It was all cool in the heat wave. The vendor had left and he slowly moved towards the front door, wishing to have a glimpse of the beautiful lady. She did appear on the door licking popsicle and smiling broadly. He hurried to bite his popsicle for fear of its melting. But today he was more interest in Jasmine than the popsicle. Not only this he did not weigh it with money. She was lovelier than the money. At that time the hot winds from Thar desert came gushing towards the town hitting hard on his face.
The love birds started meeting each other more frequently. They kept on peeping for the glimpse of one another. Jasmine being better between the two took bold step of calling Sen to her house.
One of his friends a self proclaimed advisor to Sen advised him, “How can you? It is pandemic. If she has infection; or you have infection?”
“I don’t have it. And if she has then what? I want to be with her. I love her.” Love has no fears.
There were other friends who advised him, “If you wanna to be in love, you have to break through. There is no place of cowards in love.”
A support from a friend is what a man needs and Sen at three after noon with trembling legs entered the house of Jasmine. She took him inside and slowly closed the door behind. She caught hold of his cold hands with her warm hands and took her to her room. She closed the door of the room. They were facing each other.
“When is your quarantine ending?” She smiled.
“Today.” He grinned. “And when is yours?”
She smiled, “Today.”
“Now, do you love me?” She asked lovingly.
“Yes. I love you so much. That is why I am here.” His voice was trembling. He could feel her warm and plumy body touching him.
She got nearer, “Ours is the sweet love of quarantine.”
He grinned. She wrapped her arms around him and joined her lips with him. He embraced her warm body in his arms.
He whispered, “We will marry.”
She asked, “When?”