Grains of Salt #2.

No one likes stereotypes.

When I was in school, I used to debate. And every time I would  slander someone up on the podium because of some stupid comment they made, my classmates would refuse to believe I came from a Bengali family.
But Bengalis eat a lot of sweets,they’d say.
But Bengalis have a sweet tooth,they’d say.
How can someone who consumes that much syrupy sweetness at one go, say something so bitter?
Or worse,sour?

No one likes stereotypes.
Not when they’re about us.
Especially when they’re about us.

There was a child left alone at the school gate that afternoon.
School was over.
He wasn’t one of them.
He didn’t wear a tie. Or a belt. Or carefully parted and combed hair. Or spot less washed every day uniform.
He wasn’t one of them.
There was a child left alone at the schools gate when school gave over.
He watched the golawala making colorful goals out of ice and coloured syrups.
He watched the mithaiwala at the other side of the street stirring the ladle in a vat of pasteurized milk sitting atop a gurgling pale blue fire.
He watched the mithaiwala as he poured sugar into the milk and stirred the ladle some more.
The sugar melted in the hot milk.
The way a thousand lover’s heart melted at the iris of their rosy dames.
He watched.
He watched.
He watched as the first bubbles of froth appeared on the surface of the sweetened milk.
It said, there’s no milk now.
It said, there’s no sugar either.
It said, both have lost themselves in one another. Both have given themselves into the fondling warmth of togetherness to become something more than they ever were alone.
Milk in sugar.
Or sugar in milk.
There’s no way of telling now.
All there is to do now, is drop the fried chhana balls into the infused syrup.
In faraway Sutanuti, it seems like centuries have passed in between, someone cooked the first Rasmallai and Rosogolla.
In a school gate sitting homeless child’s Boroline devoid nostrils, it seems like centuries have passed in between, the smell of freshly cooked sweetmeats waft fresh as ever.

The child gathers his coins from a day of begging and buys a plate of hot rosogolla today.
Maybe its his birthday, and no one knows except him.
Maybe he just made 5 coins more than yesterday.
Maybe he knows there won’t be 5 coins extra tomorrow.
Standing on the paved dusty footpath, I watch as the child bites into his rosogolla and chokes a little because it is hot.
Have you ever seen something like this?
A single lone kid with dirty hands and tattered clothes and nothing to call his own in this world biting into a rosogolla which burns his tongue with its fuming hotness and the kid takes another bite and another while his eyes tear up from the stinging hotness and the wind is a little reckless today as it slams against his body and mine and blows with a song of never ending woes.
A rosogolla tastes a little less sweet than it smells because your saliva kills a little of its flavour.
A dry tongue kills more.
A hungry dry tongue makes everything you eat taste a tinge of bitterness.
Go hungry for sufficient time and you can eat your way through a landfill of sugar and come out spitting bitter bile on the sidewalks.
That’s what hunger does to you.
Quells your taste buds.
Quenches your sugar rush.
Go hungry for enough time, and you’ll never want to eat again.
The child bites into the rosogolla with the fierceness of a starving gazelle, and if you ever saw something like that you’d wonder, is sweet really as sweet.
Was it sweet ever?
Or was it always bitter, it was we who romanticized it into delight?

If you ever saw something like that, you’d spend your days asking, is it he who never felt what sweetness really is?
Or is it us?
Has it always been us?

No one likes stereotypes.

If you saw something like that on a dull afternoon outside a school gate where you really had no work being at the first place, you’ll spend your days asking, what makes up stereotypes?

No one likes stereotypes.

Well, almost no one.
Some people, live life never knowing what a stereotype is all about.

Lucky people.
But who?

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