“ Well, you are now free of stomach ulcer” the doctor announced. Pakhi, my wife was visibly happy on this news. “But you must follow certain food restrictions…. no chillies… no hard spices” doctor added.
At home the relatives those who assembled, were all happy. Those days a horde of relatives, especially the elderly aunts and uncles would eagerly await for the patients, to get the first-hand news. There were some elderly aunts who suggested that she should take tender coconut water every day. “Before lunch”.. one aunt added.
Now, I thought it was easy. Tender coconut or Daab as it is locally called, was available in Paan (bittle nut) -cigarette shops. Ganesh Rout’s shop was near our house…. this was the place we used to fetch Daab in our youth-days. I set out for the shop.
On reaching at the shop, two things I noticed. One, Ganesh is no more there… there was an young man managing the small shop. Two, the shop is more decently decorated. When asked, this young man informed that he is the son of Ganesh, and, he never sells coconuts any more. “In fact, no paan-cigarette shops would be selling coconuts any more”.he informed me. Now I was panicked, and, asked is there a way out ? He gave me a tip. “Go near the temple of our locality, and, wait. Soon Sushilda would turn up…. he sells them”. I waited in front of the temple, nearly an hour and finally found my redeemer! He assured me steady supply…. every day before lunch time. Next several months Sushil dutifully accomplished his job religiously.. no matter it is a rainy day or a scorching sunny noon. Near our house we could hear him shout “Daab….Daab”. He re-modelled his cycle by making two bamboo-made fence-like structure on both sides of his cycle where he hanged bunches of tender coconut.Soon he became my friend…. I learned that his full name was Sushil Halder, and he lived in a village called Raipur in our neighboring district.. 24 parganas.
Our grand daughter Ruhani, studying at 5th standard, was about to set out for her school when she complained that last night she had a stomach problem. And right at the moment ….. we heard the loud calling……”Daab…..Daab”. I rushed out…. and lo behold – Sushil. I never knew he is still in the same business ! He is a a bit old now….. so am I.
We both were happy, meeting each other, after a long interval of several years. Ruhani left for school, happy and relieved, after having the coconut water.
Sushil on his part , as usual, informed that going is tough these days. No…no. He has no complain about the price he gets. The tender-coconuts he used to sell me those days for Rs. 4/- only, now fetches 20/-. He feels, because of our mobile phones…… tall mobile towers….. which disturbs the tall coconut trees, the size of coconuts are fast getting reduced ! I did not contest his scientific theories, but could only say “thanks”….. which sounded very dry and artificial, even to my own ears !