A spring rain fell all morning bring with it relief from the heat and the red dust that chokes our café, turning our white tablecloths a pale rust. Early afternoon when the rains stop, my father and I rush to set tables, chairs, and fresh tablecloths around the café patio.
Today my father assures me, “One day Sanjay, you will inherit this café from me and care for me the way I care for you.” He turns away from me to spread a table-cloth, but I know his eyes are glassy with memories of my mother, so he quickly laughs to hide himself saying, “Yes, I can see you now Sanjay, A young man married with a plump wife who will care for us both, and perhaps, god willing, bear your children and my grandchildren.” He tells me this last part ruffling my brown-black hair, exchanging his sorrow for the wide smile of an optimist, and I am happy for us both.
Patrons begin to arrive and we are both busy. My father’s café is walking distance from the train station, and it shares a wall with the Commissioner’s Office. “Easy protection in a violent town,” my father says.
The door to the Commissioner’s Office closes hard, and my father pushes me quickly to wait on the Commissioner and his friends. The Commissioner come for tea every afternoon. Once he asked me if I could read, but I shook my head no.
“Do you plan to live here always Sanjay?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Don’t you want to go to school? Go to the university and study?”
“No,” I said.
My father helps me balance a tray of eight tea glasses, and I weave my way through the near empty café to the Commissioner’s table. The conversation is tense and hushed.
“It is true? Did the opposition push for a vote of confidence, parliament dissolved, and new elections called?” the Commissioner asked.
“Yes,” said one of the commissioner’s friends.
The Trifecta Challenge: confidence (noun)