“I need Ice, NOW!”

Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa

Rahul Prabhakar screamed in agony, clutching his ankle. A collective groan arose from the bowels of the Mangaung Oval. The match was tantalizingly poised – India was playing their arch-nemeses, Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup Finals. Chasing 283 to win, Pakistan had accumulated 192 runs for the loss of three wickets, all three Pakistani batsmen falling to Indian star all-rounder Rahul Prabhakar.

While landing at the bowling crease, Rahul’s left foot slipped and he landed heavily on his ankle, immediately straining it all the way down to the tendons. Tears poured down from his eyes, the pain was only partly responsible, as he signaled frantically for the team physio.

Jonathan Kendrick, the portly Australian physio of the Indian Cricket team, waddled down to the pitch with his kit in tow. He immediately set about examining the swollen ankle – pushing and prodding to determine the extent of the damage.

“Looks like you’ve done some major damage to your ankle, RP”, Jonathan declared solemnly. “Guess your night is over. Sorry, mate.”

“No way, Jon. Ice the damned ankle. I need to play. I have six more overs and I won’t quit now.”

“Mate, it looks like a serious ligament injury – might even be a tear. I can’t clear you to bowl now. You might end up doing some permanent damage.”

“I don’t give a damn, Jon. I would take retiring tomorrow morning if I can win tonight. Work your magic, my friend. Please.”

With an understanding nod, Jon started his treatment. The noise inside the stadium that started as a faint murmur increased to a roaring crescendo as Rahul Prabhakar stood up gingerly and limped to mark his run-up.

 

“I need Ice, NOW!”

Muro, Mallorca, Spain

Krishna called out to the Maitre D’ as Erica gazed at him in amusement. They were at Giordano’s, a quaint little Italian restaurant in Muro – a tiny municipality in the northeast of Mallorca. Their long awaited vacation had gone off to a great start – hikes through the Serra de Tramuntana, strolls through the old town part of Alcudia and visits to the Dragon Caves (Cuevas del Drach) complete with the brilliant concert towards the end. They ate sumptuous food in charming little bistros, swam to their heart’s content in the crystal clear blue of the Mediterranean and made passionate love in secret alcoves along the white sanded beaches, with seagulls their only witnesses.

The Maitre D’ arrived with the ice bucket. Krishna was nursing a Glendronach 18 and Erica was sipping her second glass of Dom Perignon.

“Just three cubes, por favor”, Ice met glass and made a faint clinking sound, smothered by the single malt. Krishna looked into the ice bucket and frowned.

“Disculpe. Que es esto?”

“Este el hielo, señor. Just as you asked.”  Krishna pushed the ice bucket over to Erica. “Sweetheart, why don’t you take a look at this?” Erica’s interest was piqued. She peered into the ice bucket. A beautiful Solitaire winked back at her from amidst its cheap imitators.

“I need Ice, NOW!”

Redfern, Sydney, Australia

Dheeraj moaned, his hands folded in a desperate plea. His body shuddered, it’s central nervous system desperately craving a shot of the Methamphetamine it was used to. He was hunched pathetically against a rotting wooden garage door.

“Tony, I need Ice real bad, mate.”

Tony, his dealer, a six-foot-seven-inch figure of raw power and menace glared at him without any sympathy.

“You know how this works, D. You get me the Pineapples, I get you the Ice.” He made to move. Dheeraj moved across to block him, even as he struggled to maintain vertical posture.

“Tony, Please mate. I need it now. Just look at me, mate. I can’t move ten feet without the damned Ice. You know I’m good for the money.”

“D. Last time, mate. And I need the Pineapples by the evening. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn ya”, Tony tossed a small pouch in Dheeraj’s general vicinity and walked away. Dheeraj scrambled greedily to pick it from the ground, his mind swimming with hopes of happy thoughts.

Twenty years ago

“I need Ice, NOW!”

A five-year-old Dheeraj bawled at his mother. Behind him, Rahul and Krishna exchanged victorious grins. They would feast on the delicious vermicelli popsicles that day. The ice cream vendor smiled at them.

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