She held my hand as I looked both ways and crossed the street. It was ten at night and the road leading to Rock Beach was almost isolated, with just a trickle of traffic. A few people and a couple of dogs loitered in the distance.
Suddenly she pointed at the lone bright spot in the vicinity, an outlet of Baskin’ Robbins that was still open. I saw a child walking out.
“Ice cream cone!!”
Her voice brimmed with delight and longing.
“You want one?”
She looked at the shop, back at me, and smiled.
“Come on, then.”
I led her in. An array of exotic flavours were displayed.
“Which one do you want?”
She peered into the glass counter and hestitated. It was not an easy choice, and the familiar tones of Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry were conspicuous in their absence.
“You choose one for me”
“You can get a taste, you know. Pick any one you like, and I’ll ask them for a sample”
Her eyes widened.
“Umm.. something crunchy. That I can chew on as well!” She could hardly reign in her excitement.
I pointed to Mint Chocolate. The guy behind the counter took a tiny spoonful and handed it to her. She licked it up and shook her head.
Next up was Milk Choco Chips. That one won her approval. I ordered a cone of the same. The guy scooped a huge ball of it and filled a fancy BR cone with it. I watched him handing it to her as I paid.
“What about you?”, she asked.
“I don’t do icecreams”, I said laughing.
We settled on a rock and watched the waves crashing.
“You know”, she began, “when I was little, everything was an adventure, and I longed for so many things that you might even laugh at. Even an ice cream was a dream, a luxury reserved for carnivals and such! Another one of my biggest wishes was to watch a plane take flight.. or at least see one up close. I remember, once I was allowed to accompany Mami to the airport for her flight. I got so excited! I put on my best dress and powdered my face. I decided your Grandma was not proficient enough at plaiting my hair properly so I ran to the neighbour’s place and had her do it instead. But alas, by the time I got back they had left without me! It was such a sad day indeed.”
“But then, I did get on a plane with you that day after your college counselling session. And now here I am, at a beach in Pondicherry at midnight, having ice cream! Who’d have thought!”, she laughed. “I believe I was meant to see the world through you”
I pulled her closer and hugged her.
“I love you too, Mom”.