Read an excerpt from Manjit Singh's short story, Buckets of Wonderment:
. . . from her perch above, Naina watched the milk-boy ride by on his Hero Honda motorcycle, his metal milk canisters barely missing a stray dog absorbed in devouring a small casualty strewn on the street below. From a distance, from opposite ends of the colony, loudspeakers echoed the ritual morning prayers, both in Punjabi and in Hindi, as if in melodious harmony, sadly unachievable amongst some of their respective worshipers. In the neighboring courtyard below, Naina watched in delight as Ramu meticulously stirred a savoury liquid concoction within a clay pot that partially concealed his pot belly. Ramu carefully added spices, a pinch at a time, with his stained, callused fingers. The aroma of ground cumin, coriander, tamarind and black salt powder drifted upwards, teasing Naina’s taste buds with the pani-puri he would sell later that day in the main bazaar, bustling with people and traffic. Perhaps this evening she would have a chance to relish in some of Ramu’s delights if she were asked to accompany Memsaab’s daughter-in-law to the market. Lost in thought, with her elbow resting on the veranda wall, Naina resisted the impulse to scream out as a small pebble shot past her. Was it him? Now standing alert, her eyes again searched the rooftop facing her own.
“Nainaaa, hurry up child, you’ll be late for Memsaab!” her mother shouted from the ground floor, as if sensing the sudden incident that had diverted her daughter’s attention.
“I’m coming, Mummy!” Naina retorted, reluctantly severing her gaze from the familiar handsome eyes that had just met hers from a distance.
Naina’s body tensed up with the realization that the boy had caught sight of her. Even more disconcerting was the fact that this time, he had caught sight of her eyes searching for his. Impulsively, she turned her back towards him, positioning herself to descend the stairs. If only there was time to build up the courage to face him.