The sun had just set in leaving a pink hue to the sky. I was walking through a narrow, gloomy street zig-zagging through a slummy neighborhood of Rawalpindi and loving the absolute stillness and quiet that falls there with the twilight. It was then that I came across that little girl standing beside the ice-cream man’s cycle with her arms stretched out towards him with a crumpled ten rupee note in her clenched little fist – her voice shivering with excitement. “Uncle, ice-cream!” A subtle smile crept across my face. She was no doubt the loveliest thing in the dullness all around.
And just then i realized that things never change…just people do. The dimly lit narrow street, the ice-cream man and his colorful cycle, the melodious tune that flows around, limited pocket money and the sparkling eager eyes, each and everything had been there for ever. It was just me who decided to grow up. The melodrama of life has been playing since eternity. Characters come, play their part and then get new roles as someone more fitting takes theirs. I stopped by and waited for the episode to end. Happily.
Unfortunately, the ice-cream man told her to go back as she did not have enough money. Her radiant smile faded into the gloomy street as she quietly turned back. Something sank in my rib-cage. But then it hit me. It hit me that fate might be giving me a chance to change the destinies. Now I could just pretend I saw nothing, scratch my belly and move on or I could be the change; create a new character that might as well live forever as did the character of the ice-cream man on his colorful cycle and the little girl with her limited pocket-money and sparkling eager eyes. So I cautiously stepped in, paid for the little girl and waited for her to return. The play seemed to have paused for a moment as if i, by stepping into a role i wasn’t assigned to play, had offended the writer. It felt all wrong. But just then, the miracle happened. She turned on her heels almost robotically, came back running, grabbed her ice-cream, smiled at me and the world smiled along…
And from then on, this world was a beautiful place at least for the children who would just stand by the colorful cycle and someone would appear almost out of nowhere and pay for their ice-creams.