“Cool Drink”! Cool Drink”! “The drink will cool you from tip to toe…come and have a drink…Cool Drink!…”. The vendor Ahmed was shouting at the top of his voice. Ahmed had a few bottles of sherbet, a few glasses and a few fruits of lime, which he kept one on top of each bottle. “Cool Drink….Cool Drink”.
This sight fascinated Janu as she was returning home tired and sweating on that summer afternoon after selling away her can of milk. In fact she was longing for a drink to quench her thirst. As she was looking on, a worker came and asked for a drink. Ahmed started making a cool drink as he kept on talking about its merits. Janu was thrilled to watch how a cool drink was made. That made her desire to have a drink more and more irresistible. She asked “Could you give me a little of that?” Ahmed looked at her with contempt as he handed over the glass of cool drink to his customer. “What is the price of a drink?” She asked. “I have ten annas but I am accountable to my mother for the cost of milk I have sold.” Ahmed felt pity for the girl and offered her a drink and said that she need not pay for that.
She relished the drink very much. She has never had a cool drink before. The taste lingered for a long time. The next day also she made it a point to stop at Ahmeds. “Will you give me a drink for half the price?” She asked. Ahmed did not respond. With much hesitation she gave him the price of the drink. Ahmed gave her a cool drink. She was sad and guilty that she has spent the money payable to her mother. She was about to leave without even saying thanks to Ahmed. She could not hold back her tears. Her mother would take her to task. Ahmed noticed this and gave her back the money and told her that she can have a drink from him every day free of any payment.
Visiting Ahmed became a regular routine for Janu. She used to clean up his table and the premises and run errands for him. Sometimes she used to bring something for Ahmed to eat. Days and weeks passed by. Monsoon started and the demand for cool drink became scarce. Ahmed told Janu that he was closing down the shop and going home. Janu looked at him in total disbelief.
Janu was there the next day as Ahmed packed everything. He offered Janu some money, which she did not accept. As Ahmed bid farewell and started walking tears rolled down her eyes. She stayed there looking at him till he was out of sight.
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