Little Mazif slouched on the steps near the fountain with a lion centerpiece. The fountain was jaded and worn out, just like Mazif’s clothes. Water spilled from the edges of basin that had developed tiny cuts and bruises just like the boy’s knees and slippers. Both, the fountain and the urchin, were quite oblivious to their own state and went about doing that they did every day.
Mazif counted the coins in his hand. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Damn! He needed six to buy his bread. He thought of negotiating with the shopkeeper to give it for five and in return he would sweep the floor twice. He sighed as he remembered movies where magic happened with the wave of a wand and a hint of trembling mouth. He thought it was time to try. He closed his eyes, waved his clenched fists and muttered what he thought must be a magic spell. ABRA-GA-SHABRA. ABRA-GA-SHABRA. A clunky sound made him open his eyes. A coin had slipped out of his hand and tossed right into the fountain. He hadn’t attended school to know how much five minus one should be. So, he counted again. One. Two. Three. Four. Darn! Now, he would have to jump into the fountain water in that freezing month of December and risk running a fever tonight or just go hungry for second day in a row and risk not waking up ever again. The little mind in his little head was busy doing whatever mathematics he understood. Just then a voice made him look up.
“Think it works?” asked a man wearing a warm grey coat, chequered muffler and a black hat with grey rim.
“Don’t know what you mean, sir,” said Mazif with hesitation as he studied the rich possessions of the man so polished that there was no sign of dirt under his fingernails.
“You think your wish will be fulfilled?” repeated the man.
Little Mazif thought about his wish to get a few more coins that would add up to six.
“I sure hope so, kind sir,” he confessed with a tender voice.
The man grinned and tossed a coin in the fountain and shocked the little hungry boy. Mazif couldn’t fathom why would the man toss away the coin when it could buy him bread and, who knows, even a hot cup of tea if it added up to enough coins. That was not the end of surprise though. A lady dressed in deep red velvet dress and fur draped around her neck, was passing by when she heard their conversation. As the man left, she tossed two more into the fountain with a smile.
For the next three hours as the evening turned into night, Mazif saw the fountain turn into a table with enough food for the rest of the fortnight. He had made up his mind. He would risk the fever tonight.