Papaaaya

On my regular Sunday morning, mornings don’t begin until my mom starts nagging and telling me how hundreds of people are jogging outside while I lie in my bed rolled up in the warm fuzzy blanket. That’s how my Sunday’s have began until I shifted to NGV last year.
Every Sunday I lay in my bed awake but reluctant to get out. My mind drifts unconsciously to various things… places to go, things to do and people to meet. Everything outside is quiet and still. It’s as if everybody is lazy and have decided to start their day late. 

From 6:00 a. m. onwards there is only one man moving slowly from one building to another. He shouts something loudly, and I wake up with a start. He shouts the same thing again, recognizing his familiar high pitched voice, I sleep off again. 

Every Sunday morning he is the only one who stirs us out of our Sunday morning lazy mood and stimulates some sort of energy in us with his voice which makes us get out of the bed.

Till six months I didn’t understand what that word meant, which he shouted continuously from morning 6:00 a. m. till the sky turned orange in evening. All I heard was “papaaaya.” It seemed like a code which is difficult to decipher. Sometimes I put my head stuck out of the window to hear the word carefully. All I could hear was papaaaya. 

My father thought he sold papayas, but for me he was my alarm clock on a Sunday morning. 

I only knew the truth some six months later. It was one Sunday morning where I decided to go inspect how the park near my house looks early in the morning.  I was walking and somebody behind me was walking and a very annoying “khar-khar” sound followed that man’s footstep. Suddenly he shouted “papaaaya.”

I almost stumbled and twisted my foot on a stone and fell. He quickly came to pick me up. “Thik to ho na beta,” he asked me. I looked at him carefully. He was wearing a white Kurta and a white topi, in that strong sunshine of morning he looked so bright. As if suddenly brought back to consciousness, I nodded at him. He smiled and went back to his cart. 

It was his cart which made the “khar-khar” sound. I noticed his cart had old newspapers. He went on pushing the cart with his wrinkled hands, and shouted “Paper aya.” 

He kept on going from one building to another shouting and gathering newspapers. As he moved far, the word sounded more like “papaaya” rather than “paper aya.”  A small boy near my house shouted “papaaaya” and ran behind the old man,  to see what he was collecting.

During breakfast I told my father that it wasn’t papaya that he sold. He laughed at my morning experience and congratulated me to finally have deciphered what “papaaaya” meant. 

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