It all started with the offer of a mint humbug. The instant I sucked the little sweet, and the mint filled my mouth, I found myself 9 or 10 years old again,giggling and eating the black and white bulls’ eye on top of the mattress stack in my cousin’s house. I could remember, no, see, my younger self running with him to the local chheda store at the corner with 10 paise coins each, and buying as many sweets as they could pay for. I could clearly see the row of faded glass jars with the bulls’ eye, orange and yellow limlets, the rectangular rose candy packs, the brightly colored poppins (super yum) and the button peepers. Oh and the cigarette candy that we pretended to puff away at.
As I narrated these stories to my colleagues, more images crossed my mind. I could see us cousins happily bonding over bonbon biscuits, as we patiently transected them into biscuit ( for me ) and cream ( that they fought over ). I could hear the bell of the gola wala at 3 pm and remember running with my cousin with tapelas to fill. I could taste the freezing cold ice with kalakhatta and kacchi kairi. I remember fighting over the extra free gola that the gola uncle would merrily give us. I also remember never suffering from gastroenteritis.
As I tumbled through the time machine, I felt the years fly by and repressed memories shoot out. The sound of the pressure cooker at 6 am from all the houses around ours, the smell of the dal and the waghar, sitting on the kitchen table and devouring hot theplas as mum made them. I remember crying for Rasna even when I had a cold, and my sister falling sick eating tons of Pepsi-colas.
Suddenly, I found myself laughing more than I had in years. Suddenly, there was a bigger spring in my step. My eyes twinkled brighter to be seen from behind my glasses. The wrinkles disappeared, as did the clumps of white hair, instead there was excitement and hope. The alarm at 5.30 seemed less harsh and Monday less hated.
Suddenly I was young and carefree again. And it all happened because of a humbug