The aroma of samosas sauntered up his nose as Ranjit turned the corner near the local sweet shop. He smiled. His sister was to visit him and she loved freshly made jalebis. But he was smiling because he knew he could munch on a couple samosas while waiting for a fresh batch of jalebis.
Although he knew what he wanted, there was one going through a decisional crisis, his face tenser than a bomb squad member’s.
Ranjit wasted no time placing the order, taking his seat next to an old man and his niece, and biting into his samosa. The duo next to him was busy watching and talking about the man eyeing the different items on display.
“Monty there has been diabetic for over a decade, and his missus is pretty strict when it comes to sweet consumption. He is only allowed one serving per quarter. She’s a leading businesswoman and a neighbourhood nutritionist,” said the elderly to his niece. The girl giggled. Ranjit took another bite.
“Is he in such a dilemma because he likes all sweets?” she asked. The old man noticed Ranjit tilt his head to hear them better. His creased lips turned up. He had audience.
“Yes, but the bigger problem is that his sugar intake is closely monitored by the missus. She will know what he ate and calculate how much sugar and calories he ingested. Then, he will have to burn away those calories. The pain of workout makes his legs burn, but his desire for sweets burns fiercer,” he said, winking at Ranjit.
“Looks like it’s a two horse race now,” said Ranjit, folding his arms and gesturing. Monty’s head shuttled between the items like a pong ball.
“Ah, the agony of choice!” said the geriatric. “It’s a question of choosing the lesser of two evils. Wherever you go, there’s just no escaping a reference to the on-going polling!”
Before furthering the broached topic, Ranjit looked around for other old people in the vicinity; biding their time, trumping their hearing aids to pounce on the first hint of political debate. Finding none, he turned towards the old man.
That was cue enough for the elderly to begin expostulating.
“The question is which will be less harmful. Sure, each has its own benefits, but the end result is glucose.”
“Maybe go on a different diet? Change what fuels your body? You’d be surprised how adaptive the human body is,” said Ranjit, trying to match his argumentative tone.
“That’s just what might be needed.”
Ranjit opened his mouth to respond but couldn’t think of one. He decided to focus on his snack. Crunch.
The customer in question was shuffling on his feet as if trying to control doody. The countdown to the explosion was growing louder by the second. The air was sultry, and his tension plastered his clothes on his body. His shaved head glistened surreally with the running perspiration; it reminded Ranjit of the word Mangata. Having learned the word recently, he was itching to use it in conversation. He opened his mouth to speak again but closed it instead on his treat once more. Munch.
To subdue the spice-induced fire in his mouth, a tray of jalebis glided on top of a shoulder and landed on the counter. Ranjit walked up to it, looking at it like it was a sleeping toddler. Monty eyed him with just as much love. The decision was made.
The orange wire had been cut. The bomb was diffused.
“Undecided voters; always picking the hottest item on the menu, never noticing that it isn’t fresh but simply reheated. While we wait for dawn, the night grows ever so dark,” said the old man.