Phosphorous and potassium chlorate unitedly made a lethargic attempt to light up the incense stick. A sharp odor filled the dingy room behind the shack.
Deity did not smile.
Ramakanth’s pleading eyes did nothing to melt her stony stare. Outside, the clouds rumbled angrily and he hung his head in despair.
Ramakanth’s tiny place had nothing extraordinary, except that it was positioned at a strategic location. ‘Hill Top tea Stall’ would have catered for all. Those who climbed up to devour the picturesque view of the valley and those who hiked down but Covid had no interest in his plans.
‘Pandemic kills’ were much more than the statistics showed. Apart from those who died of sickness, it quietly smothered many struggling livelihoods like his.
“It wouldn’t be long….” He shuddered.
In this quaint little hill town, Ramakanth’s carefree childhood never brought any foreboding of a dismal future. His father’s small piece of land kept their bellies filled. So, he and his brother had no hunger to strive for a better life.
Their Father’s demise brought the divide.
Ramakanth sold his portion. He was already married and his children were growing up fast. It didn’t take long for his naive business sense and sluggish attitude to bury him under debts.
He woke up too late to realise the demands of the time. He knew his last hope lay in his dilapidated shed shivering alone on that desolate cliff. His survival was in a quandary and his investment in tea stall was the last straw only if the travellers were compelled by their wanderlust.
“Corona has been killed” People would whisper from time to time. Life, for a few moments, would lift its tired head seeking validation.
“Hikers will be here soon.” Ramakanth’s brother said reassuringly. The easy going boy was replaced by a worldly man, now. His patch of land had been expanding and so was Ramakanth’s wife’s incessant muttering. She called his brother a cheater. He knew that wasn’t true but Lakshmi’s strong opinion overruled Ramakanth’s weak defense.
“If only I get another chance.” He mumbled with his eyes closed.
He must have slept, for when he woke up, it was strangely quiet. He looked outside.
The incandescent star shone in its full glory. It was clearly noon. Clouds had fled. Golden peaks stood against the streaks of light, soaked in a divine caress.
Awestruck, Ramakanth kept on peering at the open skies. They blushed in many hues and then smiled. A chromatic arc appeared and as if by magic and a flash of prismatic light fell on the glasses and jars, displayed at his counter.
He lost count of time, wondering.
‘Is it a sign?”
His hopes and palpitations rose when he heard human voices. He looked in the direction of the sound and smiled. The universe had conspired.
Ramakanth’s shack was glowing with cheerful warmth as he served tea in his rainbow kissed glasses to his first group of customers.