Vanilla, chocolate, or something else entirely?
She borders between the new and the comfortable. Rain falls all around her. She clutches each parent’s hand in each of her little hands as they walk. They shelter her with both their umbrellas, but once in a while, a raindrop patters on the hood of her red jacket. But she is too preoccupied to notice; she has a difficult decision to make.
They reach the little ice cream shop in a few moments. The sky overhead is like a raven’s wing. The shop is nearly ready to close. Her parents usher her in first, then step inside themselves. She leans forward, her breath slightly fogging up the glass, behind which lies treasure of all colours.
Her eyes scan over the rainbow of flavours. She knows chocolate. The deep brown is familiar, comforting. She knows what to expect with chocolate. Vanilla is all right, but her seven-year-old tongue can’t really taste anything when she puts it in her mouth.
Strawberry is her favourite. She almost always chooses strawberry; she likes the sweetness of the flavour. That, and the colour. Those three have been for her what primary colours are to artists. There are other colours, and she gazes at them in wonder.
She feels forlorn; so many choices. Until her eyes land on the turquoise.
A little sea on the edge of the ice cream rainbow. It seems luminous. And it’s blue. All the other colours are shades of brown, yellow, white. There’s the pink of strawberry. But this one is blue; she has never seen blue ice cream before. It’s beautiful.
Her hand points to it automatically.
“Are you sure?” Her mother asks, and she nods with confidence.
The shopkeeper hands a little sphere of azure to her. As her father pays, she enthusiastically pokes it with her tongue.
Sweet. Tangy. Her brows furrow. A slightly odd aftertaste.
They leave the shop. She tries it again. No, it still tastes the same.
She looks up. Her mother has chosen strawberry. Her father holds chocolate. She licks the blue again, but makes a mental note to herself.
She will pick strawberry next time.
© Sohini Kumar