I live a bachelor life on the out skirts of Mumbai, at least most times of a week. I have a caring girl friend who cooks tasty snacks for me “at times”. Usually the food is so tasty, that I take a while to come out of the zone to compliment her. She is very humble though and thinks my compliments are for name sake. Well, all I can say is I try and women have a tendency to look the other way. I love the way she shyly opens her bag to give me her home-made snack. She says she has made it in a hurry but I always know she might have toiled a couple of hours to prepare this tasty treat. She also tries to point out the defects that I might encounter in the food, typical behavior that I have been observing since the past 4 years. In a relationship there are times where you fight like cats and dogs and then there are those times where you don’t need to open your mouth to say a word but the three things that ring in your head is “I love you”. I don’t care how the last sentence sounded but I truly feel this emotion every time she opens her bag to give me the package which contains the food. She usually packs it so well that even ants might take a while to decipher ways to get it. She is definitely employable in the package industry; she is truly a food packaging artist! Apart from all the precision displayed in her packaging, I find the whole packaging rather cute. Looking at the parcel makes me feel cared, I haven’t figured why but it does.
It was one such package that I recieved two days back on my journey back home from Vashi to Panvel. The moment I met her I knew she has been working on something tasty. She forgot to put her standard eye liner, that gave away the fact that she was too busy and didn’t have the time to put it. The deal was sealed when I noticed her shy smile. So, in the middle of a conversation out of nowhere without any connection she says, “I have made Soya bean parathas for you!” It was as if she was toying with the right words before saying it. I smiled and said that is great! I need to taste one right now. After a little forcing, the beautiful procedure of she opening her bag and giving me the cute package took place. I tore the aluminum foil (she always has it in her packaging) and tasted the paratha, ummm silence for a moment..Ok for a minute maybe and I said wow!, this is the tastiest paratha I had ever had. Truly I meant it. It was as if I was in a dhaba in Punjab and having a paratha with a dash of Shilpa’s recipe (My girl friend in it). We met a friend Shruthi (who hates Soya bean) and she couldn’t even figure there was any in it. She munched and loved it.
All set, I happily boarded the local train which would get me to Panvel. Unlike any other day I was carrying something special that day, I was carrying Parathas, Shilpa’s Soya bean paratha! Patience is not one of my virtues, half way through I open the cute package and munched a whole paratha. Ummm relief, that will hold me for a while. I really wouldn’t share this one. I felt like Sméagol/Gollum from Lord of the Rings and the package was my precious. Holding onto it I reached Khandeshwar (a station before Panvel). While reading a Novel, someone touched me on my hand. It was a very weak nudge. I looked up to see a child. He was around 7-9 years old. He was wearing ragged clothes and had muddy hair. I wondered what he was doing so late! It was 11pm in the night. His eyes were weak, it radiated sadness. His legs and arms looked brittle. Being a Mumbaikar, seing beggars is not an uncommon thing but there was something about this kid that made me feel bad. Government, politics, WHO all kept aside there was only one thing this child needed and I knew it was food.I think he noticed the package in my hand and came straight towards me. After a few seconds of moving his cupped hands vertically with a sad smile, he pointed at my package and then pointed towards his mouth. A gesture that I feel any person on this planet will understand at least every Indian will understand. Seconds felt like minutes, every second that the child looked at me with those sad eyes I felt sad. I felt the world is a cruel place it makes a child beg for food but what he wanted was my precious. I know what you might be thinking that I removed the parathas and gave it to him. I feel the blog’s name gives it away! Yet I feel sad to differ. I said no, it was a stern no. I can’t give these Parathas to the child. It was meant for me, Shilpa always says, “please have the food for yourself I made it for you, share it with your friends if you really need to but I would want you to have it alone.” Can’t blame the girl, I feel it’s a basic instinct for a women to protect and feed her loved ones. It does make them sound selfish but keeps the world alive and nourished. Now that I think of it I know for a fact that she wouldn’t mind me giving the child parathas, I know her kind heart just too well. She would be the one to give it to the child. I saw the child going ahead and loosing hope on the food. “Loosing hope” I have been through that feeling many a times especially in my current Engineering education. It is a painful feeling; I called the child towards me told him to sit down beside me.
No point in asking names where does he live? It doesn’t matter what matters is that the child needs food. I opened the cute looking package, gave a paratha to him and took one for myself. We ate together. I have to admit that I was looking at him every time he took a morsel feeling relieved that he is eating. I just couldn’t take my eyes off him. The poor fellow had to beg to eat! The train was moving and he just sat next to me, he had eaten after a long time, I could sense it. Slowly his eyes started to close and he slept like a baby.While he was sleeping I was pondering, who is to blame? The government ? The beauracracy? The politicians? Or Us? We are all mesmerized and living in a matrerialistic world that makes us believe that all that matters is all that shines! There is no value for life. There is value for big cars, expensive dinners, and expensive clothes. No one cares whether the child sleeping next to me has had his meals! All that matters is profit. It’s us, who should start the change. We have to understand that the only way out of this misery is to care for others. We have to love all humans alike, no religion, no sect, no bifurcations. Just give love and care for others. Think about what is wrong and try and change it. Don’t ever give up! I have had discussions with people over such issues and in the end they say, “This is too serious a talk.” Let’s talk about something else. I have understood in my life that all that actually matters is your serious talk. Everything that you talk other than that is just unproductive shitty talks which will be forgotten. What will leave a mark on your life is your serious discussions. Maybe it might even go ahead and change you as a person. So, a way to a Man’s heart is through his stomach and sharing your food with someone who needs it is a priority. Ask questions, talk good talks.
Reminds me of a Poem I read:
QUESTIONS ARE THE ANSWERS
When happiness breathes in every cell,
Heart beats stronger with every step-
Love flows, more forcefully than a watery cliff
Then, whats the need for anything else?
While we live in the present tense,
A block ahead from the entrance/exit gate,
A road ahead with unseen nails-
Then, why is the forehead cringing?
The faith is intact like a bricked wall
The goal is clear and sky high-
Focus and determination unshakable,
Then, where does fear have any place?
If the blind can see dreams,
The deaf can hear his heart beating;
The dumb can speak his mind out:
Then, isn’t it illusive to believe it’s impossible?
-Poet’s Choice (Book:ISBN 935137101-8)
Published by : Akshay Sonthalia.