The tale of the misal pao at aaram

She was a simple girl with a regular teaching job. Nothing fancy. Oh no. She reminded herself every day about the disadvantages of dreaming big. “A dream is nothing but a mirage,” she professed; dictating these thoughts to her near, dear and one too many peers. Her day would begin at the same place and time. As the clock stuck 10, she would walk into the place with a plate of her regular misal pao, ready to be devoured within 12.5 minutes flat. She timed herself as strictly as a nun on duty in a girl’s hostel. But those 12.5 minutes proved to be the best 12.5 minutes in the day, every single day. The spicy mouth-watering meal put her into a serious daze as she lost herself into the buttery bliss of the pao and the piquant spoonfuls of the crunchy misal. Today as she sat at her table, the owner of the restaurant made his way to her. She looked at him questioningly, wondering why he was unknowingly stealing the best 12.5 minutes of her day. He smiled at her, an old wrinkly, toothed smile and said, “happy birthday, beta.” She looked at him and smiled back from ear to ear. She murmured a thank you with a mouthful of the dish and he placed a piece of paper in front of her. “I can’t afford too much. But I can gift you my dream. Check the result at 3pm.” He had given her a lottery ticket. A staunch believer of the Lady Luck, he religiously bought one every day for the last 20 years. But to no avail. The ticket was for 1 crore Indian rupees. As much as she tried to remain calm and not wait for the results, she found herself stealing a look at the clock, ticking at the opposite speed of light. But as the chimes struck a chord at 3pm that day, she saw a dream come true for the very first time. It wasn’t hers to claim. But it was one to believe in.

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