Monday, July 27, 2015

Hunger pangs

The cans were all empty. Three hungry stomachs growling and not a grain to feed them.
It had been raining for three days now. And she had not been able to make her daily rounds, exchanging utensils for old, worn out clothes and then reselling them for paltry amounts to villagers and even poor.
But she was not poor. She was beggarly. She and her three kids. It had not occurred to her husband in the moments of his physical wantonness to worry about providing for them. He had planted his seeds in her life and drunk his way to an early death, leaving her alone to fight daily battles of survival. And fighting she was. With every single fiber of her being. A relentless daily fight to win over the hardships. The pitter-patter rain drops harshly reminded her of the hollowness of food cans. Rumination could wait. She would have to forage first.
She picked up a torn plastic bag and wrapped it around her head before stepping out of her lean-to. She drew back the bright blue patched tarpaulin to afford some privacy and security to her family before marching away.
Vegetables tend to go pricey in rains. Or may be she felt the brunt only because she had so little money with her. One single coin with 5 embossed on it. She held it endearingly and ran her rough fingers over the stamping. Many times over. It could buy them absolutely nothing. Such a waste of metal and minting.
They could all sleep hungry tonight. Like countless nights of past. One more night without food would not harm much. Or perhaps it would. She was not sure. For a moment there, her mind wavered between begging and stealing, and then rejected the options. Too despicable. No, they would sleep hungry tonight.
Drenched to her skin, she turned back. She walked past the market and its luxuries like they were not there. She had reached the outer-most limits. A little walk from here and she would be back with her kids, feeding them the imagination of her mind and lulling them to sleep.
The smell of fish wafted from nearby in the moist air. Even her own hunger, repressed for the sake of her kids, surged and leapt at the prospect. She had always found it difficult to cross this area, primarily because she was vegetarian and she found the smell revolting. Not today. Today the smell held the promise of a full stomach. No wonder, she found it difficult to cross the area this time too.
Her feet stayed rooted in the morassy puddle, her saree clinging to her like second skin while her mind and heart and every other sense fought with each other. Hesitant, debating, dithery. She willed herself to walk and then willed to enter the roadside eatery.
She looked ahead, seemingly where her shanty was. And then she looked up at the orangish steaks hanging above the counter. Behind the steaks was hanging a roughly scribbled pricetag - Rs.5/-. Catchpenny but affordable.
The battle was over. She entered the nameless eatery, handed out the coin, took the parcel wrapped in newspaper, and stepped out, holding her breath all this while.
She portioned out the steaks equally in three plates with shivering hands. Her kids ate in silence while she stared out at the incessant rain. They didn't question. She didn't volunteer. But as they bit into the flesh, she closed her eyes. A tear trickled down her cheek. Or perhaps it was a raindrop. It didn't matter. At least, her kids were not going to bed hungry.

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  1. .This is a well written piece of work. I kept on reading expecting something. It did happen when she could feed her children that day! Well done

    1. Thank you so much Ineke. It is so heartening to hear such positive feedback from you.


Since every thought is a seed, I am looking forward to a delicious harvest.