He looked at the red colored salted tamarinds laid out in the cart of the hawker. He smiled in remembrance of the tangy childhood afternoons with her. It had been years since he had last bought tamarinds for her.
He thought of the afternoon they first saw the imli wala. Within a few days of his arrival, the imli wala was always crowded with school children. They were waiting for their bus when the imliwala offered them some tamarind fruit. She craved for the mouth watering tamarinds but they had no spare money to indulge. To make sure that they don’t eat any unhygienic outside food, their parents gave them money only enough for the fare for the bus.
He bought her the tamarind for 1 rupee out of his 2 rupee bus fare. They were just 7years old then. She was happy to have what she wanted but worried about going back home. He knew the way home and together they walked all the way home. Chattering, eating the tamarind and spitting the seed. This became a weekly ritual. Every week he would buy her tamarinds and then they would walk all the way home.
They were friends and neighbors. They called their weekly walk as the “Imli walk”. The imli walks made them best friends.
He remembered how she worried about lying when they walked home late. He had suggested that they drop tamarind seeds all the way in the soil so that there would be tamarind tree everywhere . and they won’t have to buy tamarinds They had actually dropped seeds on the side walks and poured water with their water bottles. They checked on the sidewalks every week and felt dejected to see no plant there.
When they were 10 she had once come crying to him and said, “I think I m going to have a baby.”
He had been surprised and curious and asked, “How do you know?”
She had said, “Preeti says her mother is going to have a baby and so she keeps wanting tamarind. I too keep wanting tamarind so I also will have a baby. How will I manage the baby and its shit? How will I go to school taking the baby?”
“Don’t worry we will take care of it and we will have new toy to play plus we will get to play with the toys for the baby too!”
They were so innocent and not known what they had been talking.
They had grown up and grown apart but still been there for each other.
He packed the tamarind and took it home. When he opened the pack for her, he saw the same childish grin on her face. It was the tangy childhood coming back. She placed one of them on the tip of her tongue and slowly sucked in its sour taste. She ate one after the other not realizing when to stop. She ate till her tongue burned with the excess she had eaten. She looked at him and they both laughed.
“Your baby has had enough of tamarind for now. I bet it’s a girl!” she told him.
He took out the sweet tamarind sweet which he always bought for her along with the tamarind. He knew she liked to eat it after she was done with the sour ones.
“You remembered?” she asked in surprise
“I bet it’s the girl who wants to eat tamarind in the name of my baby.” HE winked at her
“Then your baby craves for Belgium chocolate icecream” she chuckled and pulled him close.