A plateful of Gratitude
I pushed the plate of pulao away. “I am sick and tired of the same old breakfast. I think I’ll have a bowl of Kelloggs. Why can’t you make something special mom? Every morning the same old regular stuff. Idli, chapatis, pulao! yuckk! I am sick and tired of all this”. I knew this would lead to a lecture on how many people in the world were suffering from poverty and hunger. Followed by “when we were young we had non-veg dishes on weekends nonsense. We were eight children sharing 4 omelets”.
I walked away from the dining table before her parents would start with their tragic childhood flashbacks.
“Hey! this Easter, do you want to come home for lunch?” my bench mate in my class, Jessy asked me. “Sure, I’ll ask my parents to drop me at your place. Where do you live, Jessy? Give me your address and I will be there.”
I arrived at her place a little curious. I hardly knew Jessy as she had joined recently to our school. I was her “hero” as I had saved her a couple of times from the bullying that went on in class. Most of the time my evil classmates made fun of her oily hair braids, her “Halli” accent, her uncoolness. And most of the time I would run to her rescue and was called the “tattle tale Stool Pigeon” for complaining to the class teacher. So now my teacher had made her my permanent bench mate so that I could report to her every time someone tried to act over-smart with Jessy.
Easter evening arrived and my dad dropped me off at Jessy’s home.
It was more of a tiny room with just spaces allotted for the kitchen, the two beds a table and a chair. She was excited that her friend had joined her for her Easter special lunch. Her mother greeted us with a warm smile and told us that Jessy’s father was busy with the other construction workers on the next street and wouldn’t be able to join them for lunch. “He has to work extra hard as he wants to provide everything for his little Jessy. Thank you for looking out for her in school. She keeps talking about you all the time. We are glad you joined us for lunch”.
“We have our special Easter lunch and I wanted to share it with you”, Jessy told me excitedly. She pulled the one single chair they had at their home and asked me to sit on it. “But where will you and your mother sit and eat?” I asked her? “Oh! We love to sit down on the floor. It’s comfortable and fun”, she said with a huge smile. “I would love to sit with you and have my lunch too. I ‘ve never tried that before.” I said. The three of us sat down and I was surprised to see that Easter’s special lunch to them was rice and dal. “Oh! Here comes the special dish!” Jessy told me as she handed over four boiled eggs, sprinkled with salt and pepper. She placed two pieces of fried chicken on my plate and took one for herself. I quietly ate my meal as I fought back tears that were threatening to roll down my face.
Jessy was still going on and on. “You know what? On other days we have two rotis and one vegetable dish. Or a bowl full of rice porridge with a piece of onion and two fried chillies. But Christmas and Easter are special. We get to eat chicken or eggs!”
The next morning I quietly ate my fill of pulao and even complimented mom on her cooking.
As I got up to get ready to go to school, I asked my mom, “Mom, from now onwards can you pack me another extra lunch box? It’s for my friend Jessy”.
Rachitha Poornima Cabral
Department of English
School of Social Work, Roshni Nilaya