So he left.
On a biycle, with his usual cans of milk slung on either side. Pedal, push, pedal. The rubber wheels looked slicked and soft while he rolled. The brake shoes were worn out. He pulled the levers at least 20 meters before the intended stopping point. Naturally, he needed a strong forecast. An intent prediction of events to come.
And did he have an eye for it! The expression on the face of a little girl standing on a verandah with a crumpled doll in her tiny hands staring at the road with pouted lips was an indication for him to slow down – she could dash across and fling the doll at her older brother any moment.
Or the old man wearing chappals by the doorstep. Those guys were very dangerous, trying to multi-task at the ripe old age. Pushing the big toe into the hole of the chappal was a task requiring a lot of patience. So they would try to accomplish it while crossing the road, dragging the chappal, muttering at the damned thumb-hole. And ignoring the traffic. Oh no, not thos old uncles.
Or the chhapri youth on the motorcycle, craning his neck to catch a glimpse of the fair-and-lovely using girl in the grilled window upstairs. He thought these guys have a third eye inside their nostrils – how they managed to manoeuvre the bike while looking up was beyond him. They only made him anxious, and he would run into a stall of melons with shaky handlebars trying to avoid the enamoured biker.
These were dangerous people. To him.
And so he bicycled every day. Milkruns. Door to door. Distributing his inventory. Trying to get maximum turns so he could keep the cash flowing each day. Prevent spoilage. He couldn’t maintain a cold-chain after all.
There were perks. Pretty ladies holding steel bartans came out if their kitchens to get the milk. A sly touch on the fingers here, a demure glance there. Enough motivation to move to the next client. A brief enquiry about chhotu the mischievous rascal maintained the client relationship.
The supplier was a dhoti-clad friend who loved credit. And hated it too. Outgoing and incoming, i.e.
And so he pedalled. Where does this story go? I wish I knew. Let’s see.
There came competition. He was on a Rajdoot. Belching blue smoke, smelling of ghaslet. Best to steer clear. One nudge from the beastly bike would establish the biker’s monopoly at least for a few weeks. Not worth it. Keep clear of obviously strong competition. And puncture the tire of another cycle-type milkwalla new in the business. Brownie points from the dhoti-clad supplier.
Surprisingly, the supplier was the boss here. What a sad state of affairs. He smiled. And the story stops open-ended.