Sunil Khushalani


I remember
the sherbetwala
who pushed a very colorful
 four-wheeled cart across town
In the afternoon
 he would stand outside a school
which would permit him to do so
Around the edges of the cart that faced him
were two or three rows of bottles
 in stands built for them
Bottles of concentrated syrup
orange, kaala-khatta (dark purple)
 kairee (green), elaichi (yellow)
rose, lemon amongst others
In the centre of the cart
 there was a big aluminum vessel
which contained readymade lemon juice
with lemon pulp
or watermelon juice
with small watermelon cubes
On this vessel rested a slab of wood
On top on which was
a block of ice
Drop by drop
 it would melt away in summer
keeping the juice chilled
Next to this was every child's delight
an archaic device
 which would shave the ice into slush
Every child would watch him
 turning the wheels of this device
pressing and rotating
the ice over a blade
a soggy hand collected the slush
and pressed it into the glass
 so that it didn't crumble
he would then bend
 a small stick at the top
and press it into the glass of compressed slush
The slush would then be
 firmly pressed around the stick
so that it would mould itself
 in the shape of a glass
Once the glass was
turned upside down
the stick would make a handle
 for what was called the golaa
The golaa would then be soaked
 with one or more syrups
and sprinkled with a dash of rock salt
When the children had slurped
 all the syrup away
to leave behind a pale deformed golaa
they would sheepishly request
 for some more syrup
Or one had a really cool sherbet
on a hot and humid summer day
that contained pieces of ice
that had been taken off
with an ice-pick
from the big block of ice
and broken into tiny bits
by hammering them
with the handle of the ice-pick
No matter how hard one tried
it was impossible to recreate
this magic nectar at home
After the relished treat
the children would happily
 walk back home
with orange, red or purple lips
After the children had left
he would collect the coins
 from amidst a wet pool on the cart
and put them in the pocket of his silk kurta
eagerly awaiting the next batch of kids
while he was counting his earnings
 and enjoying his beedi
Some parents did not approve
 of his products
believing that they would
 harm their children's health
These children would nervously
 look over their shoulders
or hide behind a bush
while they were having it
In the evenings
he would stand outside public parks
And late at night
 one saw him go back home
with a kerosene lamp lighting his way
to his children
 who probably were fast asleep by now
After a meal with his wife
his aching body would fall asleep
only to wake up early morning
to make syrup
 for the next business day

-{ana sayfa}{marmara}{trambolin}-