Picture by ciscopa on rgbstock.com
The school bus stopped at the main street and most of the children got down and vanished in to the almost hidden doorway between the display windows of the jeweler and the boutique. It led to a narrow dark alley like place lined with glass topped cases. The owner was a plump man of indeterminable age dressed in old corduroy trousers with leather patches on knees that may once have been brown. He wore a frayed yellowing shirt and a smock. The top hat and the wand made him look ludicrous and intimidating simultaneously. Perhaps he had cultivated the look over many years.
The children clustered around a glass case containing a score of candied fruits besides Nik-L-Nips, Circus peanuts, Wax lips, Sugar-Daddy, Necco-wafers, Jawbreakers and many more. The children just watched and salivated. An older child saw the owner come and asked ‘Mr Jhingaaroo, may we take some of the candy.’
Mr Jhingaaroo nodded and said ‘but there are no candies in that case’.
The children moved away waiting for the owner to direct them but a little new boy raised the cover and plucked out a fistful and found them to be baby spiders. The poor boy tried to get rid of them but they crawled under his sleeve. The shop owner came over patted the boys head, rid him of all the spiders with a wave of his hand and smiled reassuringly. The boy appeared to have forgotten his ordeal. ‘Learn to believe people’ he advised.
Mr Jhingaaroo turned to the children, raised a finger and said, ‘the sweets are in that corner’.
The children looked in to the glass case – it just contained fish-bait. Most of them did not bother and grabbed a fistful. A few were reluctant but they followed the others. The little boy waited the longest and Mr Jhingaaroo had to goad him, ‘faith moves mountains, my child’. Finally he picked a single fly in the pinch of his finger.
Soon all the kids walked out with a moksha-like smile sucking candies.
The group of old men who had come for an alumni meeting looked around. Does anyone know what happened to Mr Jhingaaroo’s magic store, one of them asked.
Optism is like a spiritual magnet – Anna Massey