Author – Amit Singh Negi
It was about 10:30 PM and we had just finished our dinner. I was back at home from college, enjoying the extra love and affection that I am not much used to. I was engrossed in watching a football match when a loud yell of “Malaaiii Kulfiyaaahhh” caught my attention. I stressed my dormant brain to remember the time when I’d heard the sound before. Almost immediately, I realized that he was the same vendor who used to haunt me and my sister’s sleep when we were kids. His loud yelling stayed with us right from our childhood days to the time I went to NIT Durgapur for my BTech.
Hysterically, I drowned into an ocean of memories, remembering the days when I used to study in the balcony of our house during the nights. Soon, I would doze off due to the magical cold wind. But my peaceful sleep would be interrupted by a loud snap of “Malaiii Kulfiyahh”. God! I hated him so much those days.
I even recall my dad going up to him one day and enlightening him about how his loud yelling noise was creating havoc with the sleep of the office-goers and early risers in the colony. Well, this little conversation kept Mr. Guilty-as-charged out of our colony for few days, but he came back again with a much louder voice, to disrupt not only our slumber, but also the love lives of many people around.
These memories had brought a smile on my face. Upon noticing it, my mom asked, “What makes you smile?”. Instead of replying, I smiled even more and asked her if I could buy Malai Kulfi from the vendor. “No! No! It must be unhealthy, God knows what they put into it!” mom replied with prejudice. Disappointed yet unfazed, I asked my dad the same. Even he wasn’t much supportive, but at least he didn’t say a clear ‘No!’, and that was enough for me to disappear.
I walked up to the vendor who was standing at a corner of the street with his bicycle. He was an old man with only few teeth, yet his abnormally long incisors were hanging out of his mouth. A big bag was dangling from the cycle’s handle and a large vessel covered with a red cloth was fixed on its carriage. I asked him about his whereabouts as he prepared Kulfi for me. His name was Ram Kishan and he was selling Malai Kufi for thirty five years. Apart from this, he sold ‘Malai-Makhan’ in winters. To support the business, his family members would cycle thirty kilometers everyday from his home in Dehat region.
His tired old eyes still had a lively spirit in them. He laughed like a baby when I told him how his loud voice had kept me awake during my exams and saved me from flunking. After a little chat, I finally shook hands with him and returned home with the Malai-Kufi and a smile of satisfaction on my face. Dad asked “What happened to you all of a sudden? Why the craving for Kulfi today, when you hardly eat sweet?”
“I don’t know dad. I just wanted to know the man who still sells the same Malai Kulfi. I respect his undying spirit for life and perseverance all these years. It’s so strange that so many sweet memories can be attached to an irritating loud yell of Malaiii Kufiyahh!!” I replied, still in the state of bliss while I could listen a faint yet clear yell of “Malaaii…ii Kulfiya..aahhh’ from somewhere distant.
I really wonder if we, the inhabitants of the over-ambitious world today, are able to afford enough free time from our busy schedules to re-live some of those random memories from the past. These memories may be among a few genuine-real moments which we live just for ourselves. They may not be much induced by our relationships, family ties, school or college lives; but they still acquire a big place in the domain of our memories. For instance, I wasn’t really acquainted with the ‘Malai Kulfi’ vendor, but still, those memories were very strong.
Today, we all are tech-addicts in some form or the other. The demons of modernization have plundered us of our very own right of a real existence. Somewhere in the midst of 24*7 internet, gaming, cellphones, gaming devices and long playlists, we’ve drifted away from the real world into a virtual maze. We started to give importance to “Capturing” the moments into images and videos rather than actually “Living” them.
Remember, you can’t capture all the moments, but can surely live them to the fullest. These images and videos stored in your hard drives may be lost eventually, but the memories in your mind will always be there, nestled somewhere deep. One fine day they will come back to revisit you, leaving you with a wide smile.