The man would look down at me with a mockingly grave expression on his crinkled face. 'A cup' I would quip shyly, 'please'. He would nod slowly, seriously. Then he would reach down with his sturdy metal scoop into the depths of deliciousness where the eagerly anticipated, meltingly cold ice-cream resided, away from the blistering heat of the tropical sun. I would go up on tiptoes, fingers curled tightly around the edge of the cart, craning my neck to see what I was convinced true bliss would look like. Alas, I would come up short, quite literally, and never managed a peak into the secret depths that generously afforded so much joy.
I watched the old man's sun-weathered hand work with efficient, practised flicks before raising the moulded ball of ice-cream up, up, and up. His movements seemed to play out in slow motion as I watched that arm raise so gradually and carefully, like water being drawn from a well.
All the while I would hold my breath until I saw that mountainous ball of ice-cream emerge, coloured in all shades of the rainbow, a multitude of different flavours tumbled into one amazing, addictive sensory explosion. With a firm push the ice-cream would sit comfortably in a cup that I remember to this day was illustrated with an inky blue background and decorated with a galaxy of stars.
One last tap with a triangular wafer, a toothy smile and then the ice-cream was all mine. I would gingerly reach up with my dollar and place it in the old man's jar. 'Thank you', I'd whisper and then a small salute as he watched me skip away happily with the precious prize cradled in my palm.