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After some time, unable to bear it any longer, I signed off from the home lunch. My MIL must've heaved a sigh of relief because my portion of groceries would be saved!
Until I married I had never imagined even in my wildest dreams that my diet/ food intake could assume such alarming proportions and affect conjugal harmony. Having stepped into my marital home I discovered to my bewilderment that the four female inmates were frugal eaters. My spouse and his dad ate moderately well.
The family faced a dilemma: my requirement surpassed those of the ladies but most certainly couldn’t be clubbed with the men’s. Why? Simply because they were MEN. “How could you even think of it”? They snubbed me often. (Incidentally, the parents-in-law refused to accept contributions from either of us). They probably expected me to be demure and submissive since I was ‘‘eating off” their money.
So each morning as I left for work I was served three chapattis with a few spoonfuls of curry. Can you believe this curry catered to the ladies’ lunch the previous day, and dinner for all six inmates? The horror of horrors, it crept into my lunch box too. The chapattis made at the crack of dawn were fine till breakfast but by lunch, they turned leathery; the accompanying curry insipid, tasteless.
After a few months, unable to bear it any longer I signed off my lunch except on Sundays and public holidays. My mother-in-law must have heaved a sigh of relief because my portion of groceries would be saved.
Now the flip side. Many times I touched the office around lunchtime after a hectic morning of interviews, surveys et al. There was no time to order a takeaway or the peon was missing. Under such circumstances, a kind colleague by the name of Vasantha — an editorial assistant in the bureau — came to my rescue. Many a times, finding me hungry, she would share her meals with me, even though that meant she didn’t have her fill.
Of course, some days when I managed to buy lunch I would share with her without fail. Once I proposed — if she could make some extra portions (she was an excellent cook) and carry it for me, I could pay her on a monthly basis. Her words still ring in my ears “ Mai tere ko khana bechungi? Nehi nehi … jitna hoga usi se dono kha lenge.” (Will I sell food to you? No, no…we will manage with whatever we have.) I was overwhelmed and speechless.
Believe me, she was not affluent or wealthy. Her spouse was merely a railway clerk and the couple had two children to look after. Evidently, generosity springs from the heart, not from one’s socio-economic status.
Thus it went on for a long time. Bonding over the food we grew to be personal friends. A few years ago I quit the organization. About the same time, Vasantha’s husband retired and they moved back to their native Kollam, Kerala. We are separated by distances, but I can never forget her humane kindness.
Image Source: Still from Youtube Video
Am a trained and experienced features writer with 25 plus years of experience .My favourite subjects are women's issues, food travel, art,culture ,literature et all.Am a true feminist at heart. An iconoclast read more...
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