My uncle runs a kirana shop.
Like the Sun surrounded by planets,
I have seen his world revolving around pulses, grains, snacks, toothpaste, spices, soaps… in fact, everything you need.
A single room clamped with innumerable jute sacks, a series of potato chips hanging at the entrance, jars of colourful candies near his cash counter;
apart from a few cobwebs and lizards, his shop hasn’t changed in years.
The wrinkles on his face have increased manifold, he speaks less and laughs even less.
I wonder if he ever feels hungry amidst so much food. Hungry, to find meaning in his mundane…
The one who identifies, packs, and delivers each item from your monthly grocery list.
I wonder if he has lists of unfulfilled necessities, I wonder if he has any hobbies or some choice in music.
A man put his first step on the Moon in 1969, but I wonder if my uncle is still gathering the courage to step outside his only shop or
has he already declared his kirana store the final draft of his unwritten autobiography?
I wonder if his one-dimensional character has any layers to it; a secret love-life, or some strong ideologies, or some guilty pleasures, or a forgotten bucket list.
Is he an Amitabh Bachchan fan? Does he have a favourite colour? Does he want to learn English?
What makes him so angry, mostly with himself? The one who buried his life in a Kirana shop to educate his kids, ever questions if it was all worth it?
I wouldn’t know.
As I have always asked him for the items from my grocery list, never bothered to ask him.
He will never be a newspaper headline, none will call him a ‘warrior’,
he will not make it to the top philanthropist list despite giving his whole life for the education of his kids.
No benches in the public garden will carve his name,
he will bag no business awards for trading his dreams for an ordinary life, no author will romanticise his existence…
Even then he will silently come to his shop every single day to unfailingly identify,
pack and deliver the items in your grocery list.
And this is the superhero story I will tell my future kids.
Janvi Sonaiya is a journalist based in Gujarat. She writes on taxation, politics and social issues.