When she was a little girl of nine, her mother gave her a sliced lemon with salt every morning. She was a nauseous girl and the school bus, with its sweaty kids and shut windows and the gas fumes on the road made her want to puke. Her head rolled and her stomach turned. The lemon helped, somewhat in the forty five minute onward bus journey in the morning.
But there was nothing when she returned in the afternoon. No lemon, no salt. Nauseous and with too much saliva under her tongue, she would keep looking at the watch on her wrist and count minutes for the bus to drop her at her stop. There was no respite, but one.
There was a senior girl whose hair stood like a dense tree on her head, and she also wore thick spectacles with black frames. The school bus took somewhat of a detour to drop this senior girl home. And every day before she got down at her stop, the bus moved through a few narrow streets full of snack shops. Any street food her nine year old mind could imagine, was being sold there, undoubtedly. And more.
Those streets saved her, those smells warded off her nausea and wafted through her nostrils into her stomach. Her mouth salivated and she waited patiently to eat whatever mother would have cooked the moment she stepped into home. She nick named it the street of spices, through which the bus traveled hardly for seven minutes or eight, but she waited and counted minutes to get there.
Also, there was this friend who saved her some egg rolls from lunch. His mother worked with her mother and hence they were friends. They sat side by side in the library period and hence they were friends. She loved his slimy egg rolls, hence they were friends. She got him a band aid that time he scraped his knee playing kho-kho and hence they were friends. They lived nearby and their bus stops were consecutive, hence they were friends.
Their friendship bloomed like a concomitant to the chaos of their nine year old lives. Yet she was so nauseous and she imagined, why he was not?