Located at the intersection of two busy roads, his roadside food stall was not something that could be missed. His omelettes were popular for their flavour, and so was he for his generosity. After months of hard work, he had earned a regular customer base. Every night, after work, he fed his battalion of canine companions and a homeless woman at the end of the road. He did not earn much selling omelettes, but that was his way of thanking God for a good day.
That evening, he got to work at his usual time. He was humming the tune of a chartbuster from the 90s as he set up the stall. He was lighting up his stove when I approached his stall, grumbling. His bright, paan-stained smile did not lighten my mood. As I was his regular customer, he took the liberty of asking me if something was wrong. All my pent-up emotions broke loose and without meaning to, I began ranting about my bad day at work.
While listening to me keenly, he beat a few eggs and poured them onto the hot pan. Whether it was the relief of getting my thoughts out or being outside after a long day in the office, I didn’t know. But I felt a sense of calm fill my mind. I became aware of my surroundings. The street was unusually crowded that evening, as a festival was on at the temple across the street. Devotees bustled about the road, while several hawkers had set up fancy food stalls around the temple to make a quick buck.
Within minutes, my omelette was ready. He garnished it with pepper and extra chopped onions, just the way I liked it. It was his way of making me feel better. As I munched on my omelette, I noticed that several of his regular customers were at other stalls. The competition was affecting his business that night. But he did not seem to mind.
A cool evening breeze caressed our faces. Sitting down on the pavement beside the stall, he began petting one of the stray dogs he was friends with. Completely immersed in the moment, he was smiling as he gave the animal his undivided attention. The smile never left his face even as I paid him for my food and left. As I walked home, I realised that I was smiling too. It was indeed a beautiful evening.