Traffic lights, hawkers and cavities

I’m at the junction where Queens road meets MG Road meets Kasturba Road meets chaos and cacophony.
Ten seconds till the lights go green,
Enough time for candy floss sellers to wriggle between cars,
and thrust their garish pink wares
arranged radially on a towering wooden pole
at passengers shielded by glass panes in AC cars
or at those leaning back in their high seats in the bus.

The vendors’ target clients though
are the children distributed on scooters
in ones or twos,
and often in numbers the vehicle manufacturers did not factor in
when they tested the two wheelers.
The hawkers drop their pace,
hoping a guardian would give in
at the right moment.

Unaware of these market conditions,
a hand juts out from an auto,
and a hurried transaction later,
a toddler – looks like he’s two –
clutches a candy stick,
his fingers dwarfed by the cane.
He pulls the plastic wrapper,
the woman next to him
raps his forearm.
She must be his mother.

The lights go green,
our paths diverge as the auto careens,
without warning,
to the right.
In a parallel universe, indicators are decorators.

The pink bundle recedes into a dot,
I thank myself for not having a sweet tooth
as my tongue rolls around
my set of twenty-three full and five half teeth.
The cavities are not my doing.
I curse my dentist,
and message a friend if he knows
someone new in Koramangala.


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