The Toy


Photo by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

I take heavy steps as I walk through the streets of the Gràcia neighborhood. Why is it impossible to find Swiss Miss — or something comparable — in this city? I have walked from one shop to another looking for a mixture of cacao and milk powder that can be dissolved in hot water. My search has not been successful. It seems that all cacao here in Barcelona is made for being dissolved in milk. I do not want to put hot milk on my thermos. I only want to put hot water on my thermos. I want to have hot cacao on tomorrow’s hike. As it looks now, it does not look as if I will have everything as I want it.

If only I had not promised myself to stop drinking coffee. Then the whole situation would be simpler. I could buy myself some instant coffee. I could buy myself instant cappuccino. I could even buy myself cacao flavored instant coffee that could be dissolved in hot water. Everything exists. Everything except a mixture of cacao and milk powder. Everything except Swiss Miss. Everything except what I really want to drink on tomorrow’s hike.

What is this?  I bend down to take a closer look at the small object I had spotted on the sidewalk. It is a small toy. A small toy-man. Could also be a robot or a super-hero. It is hard to tell. I cannot see it well enough in the dark.

I wonder what I should do. I feel like I have to do something. For some reason it does not occur to me to simply walk past the toy. To continue my walk through the neighborhood. To continue my search for a mixture of cacao and milk powder. For some reason I feel as if I need to do something with respect to this toy. I feel as if I cannot simply walk past it as if I had not seen it. I saw it. I feel that I must react to this situation in some way.

I feel sorry for the owner of the toy. I imagine a little boy walking up the street — hand in hand with his grandfather. In his free hand he holds the toy. His favorite toy. His favorite robot. His favorite super-hero. Whatever the toy character is. In the next moment the boy notices that he the toy is gone. He has dropped it somewhere. He starts to cry. The grandfather asks where he dropped the toy. The boy does not know. The grandfather says they will go look for it tomorrow — when it is light. Now, they must hurry home to grandmother. The dinner is almost ready.

I feel I must do something for the poor boy. Help him find his toy. I do not know what has come over me. I do not know why I feel this urge to help. Maybe it is because I have myself been searching. Searching without finding. We are in the same shoes. The boy and I. Although not really. I have not lost anything but found a toy. He has lost a toy but not found anything. However, we are both searching.

What can I do? I admit to myself that there makes no sense for me to be thinking about this toy. There is nothing I can do for its owner. I should let it go. I don’t understand why I even thought about doing something. I do not know why this little toy raised so much emotion in me. I must move on. I move on. I continue my search for a mixture of cacao and milk powder. I try to get the toy out of my mind. I can’t. I feel that I should do something about the toy. There is nothing I can do.

I have not walked for long when I see two people who gain my attention. Mother and a daughter. The daughter points in my direction.  The mother looks around herself in all directions — as if she is looking for something.

“Are you looking for a toy?” I ask as I approach the mother and daughter. “A small toy? A robot? A super-hero?”

The mother says yes. They are looking for a small toy. I can feel a joyous feeling run through my body. Could it be that after all I will be able to assist the toy’s owner?

“It is on the sidewalk further down the street,” I say and am about to head back down the street and get the toy.

“Easy,” says the mother. “We can go get the toy ourselves. Is it far?”

“Not at all,” I reply and wonder why I had thought is so natural that I should get the toy myself. “It is on this side of the sidewalk, a bit below the next crossing.”

The mother thanks me for the guidance and they walk along down the street to look for the toy. I continue my walk in the opposite direction. I decide to stop looking for the mixture of cacao and milk powder. I feel content with what I have found today. Even if I had not found what I was looking for. Finding the toy outweighs not finding the cacao mixture.

I have not walked far when i see a small shop selling ecological products. I suddenly get the idea that they might sell a mixture of cacao and milk powder. At least it does not hurt to ask. The search is on again.

“Do you have cacao that can be dissolved in hot water?” I ask the shop keeper as I enter the shop.

“Certainly,” the shop keeper says and leads me to the inner part of the store.

“Here it is,” the shop keeper says and hands me a pack. “Here is some cacao.”

I read the ingredients description and am a bit disappointed.  The pack contains pure cacao. Not a trace of milk powder.

“Well, I am actually looking for cacao that can be dissolved in water,” I say as I return the pack to the shelf. “Not cacao that should be dissolved in milk.”

“You can dissolve this cacao in hot water,” the shop keeper replies, looking as if he does not really understand my argument. “Or milk. You choose. Whatever you want.”

I smile. I like the answer. The shop keeper is right. Of course it is possible to dissolve the cacao in water. Arguably it would not become the drink I was hoping to find. However, it would probably be better than nothing. Better than going on a hike in late December without anything hot to drink. I decide to buy the cacao. See how it tastes if I mix it with sugar and dissolve it in hot water when I reach the top of tomorrow’s mountain.

I decide to buy the cacao. I follow the shop keeper back to the counter and hand him money for the cacao. As I am paying, I can hear new customers enter the store.

“So we were going to the same store,” I hear someone say behind me.

I turn around. A mother and daughter have entered the store. The same mother and daughter that I talked to earlier.

“Did you find the toy?” I ask.

“Yes. Thanks for the help,” the mother replies and walks further into the store to greet the shop keeper.

“You’re welcome,” I say as I prepare to go my way.

I say goodbye to the mother, the daughter and the shop keeper as I exit the store. My steps are light as I walk home. I am happy about today’s accomplishments. Maybe I did not find exactly what I was looking for. I did however find some other things. Other things that are no less interesting.

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