Junaed was thinking, for the umpteenth time in his life, how annoying the constant traffic congestions were. With the bus drivers going berserk right in the middle of highways, almost literally driving through buildings in avenues and hitting pedestrians on highways intentionally, one could only wish for so much sanity when on the streets of Bangladesh. And then there were the hand-pulled three-wheelers they called rickshaws. One could not even get started on them. Them, and the numerous private cars that seemed to belong to a select 5-6% of Dhaka’s population.
Junaed was thinking, again for the umpteenth time, how convenient it was that he’d gotten a motorcycle. He could swerve through gridlocked roads in a matter of minutes, which meant he was never late for anything.
He was thinking all this on the way to see his mother. It was indeed a blessing, because he’d be able to get to his sick mother in time. She’d asked to see him after what felt like ages. In a fit of rage with his sister, with whom his mother lived, he had stopped visiting almost a month ago. Five weeks ago, to be precise.
His heart ached to see his mother’s smile, though at this point it was more probable that she’d cry at his sight.
He sped through the streets, swerving dexterously between the tempoos and the damned rickshaws. More than once he felt eyes on him, and he scoffed internally. As if they’ve never seen a motorcyclist speed on the streets before, he thought once. Everyone wants to be the hero, and they want everyone else to be villains.
More than once, he reached out a hand behind him to check if the packets full of fruits he’d bought for his mother were still there.
He was still a long way from his destination, when a banana vendor pulled his van up right beside him. They were standing at the front of yet another gridlock, and the two had somehow formed a non-verbal competition. He accelerated toward the left in what he considered an elegant swerve, and beat the banana vendor by a mile, being of a much lower horse power as his poor hand drawn vehicle was.
They think they can beat us machines, do they? Those khet kamlas? he thought as he drove on toward his mother. She always did love to hear his stories of teaching people the difference between khet and non-khet.
As soon as Junaed reached his sister’s building and parked his beloved automobile, he knew something was missing. The three packets of fruit were there, securely tied down with the cord to the backseat. All his customized stickers were still on. His helmet, his wallet, his jacket, even the cord he used to tie the micro vehicle to nearby fences to avoid thievery was still there.
And then, he looked at the left gear, and remembered the bunch of banana’s he’d hung there. He’d bought them for his mother, because she loved banana’s more than most fruits. In front of him, the handle stood empty, long relieved of its dozen unit burden.
The banana vendor parked his three-wheeler on the street he usually did, washed his hands and face from a nearby public tap in plain view of his treasured merchandise, and decided to count his bananas one last time before the day’s sales picked up.
He counted in fours, halis. Eighty… ninety… hundred… hundred-three…
He stopped. That was strange. He clearly remembered loading a hundred halis. He counted again. Hundred and three. He thought carefully for a moment, and considered the possibility that his son might’ve put the extra dozen in while he was not looking. But then he saw the string attached to the dozen bananas, and the image of the cool-motorcycle-guy with a bunch of bananas dangling from a gear came vividly to his mind.
AN: Yes. The naming is intentional.
Also, this is not my best piece, and I know that I can improve on this. Any constructive feedback is very welcome.