Hola! Hope you're smiling :)
-Saturday was lovely for I had lunch with this little guy, my cousin Ahmed. If you heard him ordering food, you’d think there’s a dragon inside him with a monstrous appetite heavily concentrated on poor fowls, ‘umm, chicken 65, chilly chicken, chicken manchuria, chicken lollipop, chicken fried rice, chicken biryani please’ is the order the waiter finds hard to scribble on his pad right before my aunt, Ahmed’s mom makes it easy for him as she repeats the order in a hush ‘just chicken biryani and chilly chicken, forget the rest.’
My mom inquires ‘you intend to wipe out all the chicken population in Hyderabad, Ahmed?’ to which comes the reply ‘arey Munni aunty, I am saving all the plants for a better tomorrow, my teacher said we must do so to save our planet from global warming.’ Disappointed that only two dishes turned up on the table, Ahmed passes destructive looks at the waiter making the poor waiter look at Ahmed’s mom helplessly as if seeking protection from the wrath of this Chicken-eating God he displeased.
With food on his plate and the sumptuous chicken screaming at him, Ahmed digs his fingers into the food and the first two morsels go into his mouth within split seconds. ‘Ahmed, how ill-mannered you are getting with each day, eat with the spoon!,’ threatens my aunt. And Ahmed being Ahmed…responds ‘listen Ammi, I will say what I wish to say, ask for what I want and do what I want to do. I want to eat with my hand now and I will eat with my hand.’
Meal done. Ice-cream time. The order naturally goes ‘my all-time favourite boat Ice-cream please.’
And then damage was done with a single question I shouldn’t have asked. Like Othello’s fall began with a moment of suspicion, the fall of Constantinople with a seed of doubt – my question destroyed Ahmed’s romance with his beloved boat ice-cream.
‘Isn’t it ice-cream boat and not boat ice-cream Ahmed?’
‘No Bannu didi, it’s boat ice-cream. A boat made of ice-cream. What you are saying is an ice-cream as a boat.’
I can never know what that means.
And at that point arrives the legendary boat ice-cream. Reaching out for the dessert spoon with a lightening reflex (he didn’t wish to have ice-cream with his hand though) Ahmed pierced the spoon into the soft ice cream but halted there and the rest of the action played in slow motion – the hand stopped – the spoon didn’t scoop the ice cream – he observed the entire thing, the boat ice cream with eyes squinted – observed it for a good one minute and said ‘Ammi! This is ice cream boat! Not boat ice-cream’ and looked furiously around for the waiter – the waiter lucky for two reasons. One, Ahmed couldn’t find him for the next fifteen minutes by when his anger pacified a little bit, two, it was a spoon in Ahmed’s hand and not a fork!
He walks up and down the restaurant trying to find the waiter who took his order and finds him after a great search. ‘Excuse me, I asked for a boat ice-cream and you got me an ice-cream boat. I am placing the order again, get me a BOAT ICE CREAM.’
You weren’t there so there’s no way you can imagine the terrified look on the waiter.
Ahmed walks back and sees the ice-cream boat’s gone, all four scoops of ice cream licked to the bowl. Now, Ahmed has an older brother –Ali who is not used to much contention and has trained himself well enough to stealthily make the best of his brother’s perfectionist tantrums, perhaps this situation repeated itself many times before for Ali’s timing was impeccable in that he licked the last bit of the ice cream by the time Ahmed returned to the seat.
‘Sorry Ahmed, I finished it,’ – Ali
‘Oh it’s okay, that’s the boring ice-cream boat. I am getting boat ice-cream anyway,’ – Ahmed.
Jesus Christ, the boat ice cream arrives. Same bowl, same scoops of ice-cream but the position of the wafers on the ice-cream placed extra creatively – in a parallel position on ice-cream boat and crossed on a boat ice-cream.
He looks at it closely. Sighs. And calmly has his ice cream. ‘Asshole is tricking me, he thinks I don’t know that this is not boat ice cream, he got me ice cream boat again.’
You’d think Ahmed’d run after the waiter’s life but no, this kid is wise I tell you. He sat down, sighed over and over again and made peace with whatever that was in front of him, shattered the wafer creativity by plucking them out and silently partook the ice cream.
It was devastating to see my little cousin have that ice cream with such dissatisfaction like writers/artists live their lives after realizing their dreams are never coming true but they still have to go on, live the life that comes to them.
He ate slowly, no great desire, no greed for what he was having because it is ice-cream boat and not his boat ice-cream. Impatient with his pace my aunt asked the waiter if she can let her son take the bowl home and she’d return it the next day.
‘Ma’am, please keep the bowl and the spoon, take your kid home. I disappointed him and he looks so sad , I can’t see him like that.’
Me to Ahmed – ‘Ahmed, what’s the difference between boat ice cream and ice cream boat?
Ahmed to me –’Don’t you guys get it? It’s all in the position of the wafer!’