9:15 A M, Saturday morning, I was looking out for a parking slot for my bi-cycle near the grocery store. Not that there was lack of space for parking; but that I was concerned about the cycle. If there is one thing that these corona pandemic days have made me heartily happy about, it has to be the less occupied streets and easily available parking place. I could not have imagined Malleshwaram lanes open for placing your car close to your shopping destination; nor could I have thought of Bengaluru roads being almost vacant during peak hours. Pandemic has really turned few impossible into possible.
Now, back to the cycle, I spotted a safe place for it. I went to this enthusiastic man in his may be 50-ies, selling sprouts of different pulses, placed on a small yet broad stool, sitting on a foldable chair.
Looking at me walking to him with the cycle, he questioned "Which pulses madam?".
I smiled and answered "No, sorry, I don't need the pulses for today, but need a favor. Can you please have a watch at the cycle if I park it next to you?"
Quick came his response "What is there madam? No body will carry it. Without worries park it and go."
I coolly parked the cycle next to him and said "You see there is no lock to it. That's the reason I am requesting you."
He having no customer yet, was talking to a man standing next to him. That man also joined to assure "No body will take it madam. You can aaramse (coolly) place it here and do your necessary shopping."
I asserted "I know, everybody around are good only. But sometimes situations can turn things bad. I have had a locked cycle stolen from within the compound of my apartment earlier. I never got it back even after a police complain.(Another blog on that, another time :)) Just that I don't want to lose another cycle."
Both staring at me and one speaking " Don't you have a lock?"
Now I smiled and said "No, I will be back in 10 mins. Can you just keep an eye on it please?"
"No problem. We are here only and we will watch it out." came a sincere reply.
As I crossed the lane to get into the grocery store, I saw a man giving a big pack of Lay's Chips to a girl in rags. She must have been around 8-9 years, almost my younger daughter's age. The man went away after that but, the girl still stood outside the grocery store with hopeful eyes. I thought, may be the girl wants another pack, as the tag for Lay's goes 'No one can eat just one'. I almost reached the entrance of the grocery store.
The girl looked at me and said "akka (meaning sister)" with an expectation.
"You already have a pack of chips. Not happy?" I asked.
"I don't want that." she said.
"So, what do you want." I questioned.
"Akka, I want daal." she replied.
"Daal?" I quipped.
"Akka, at home people have not eaten. We can eat a meal, if I get daal." she said.
I wanted to take the girl with me into the grocery store, but then she wasn't even wearing her mask. I also saw few people within the store without mask, and few others who wore the mask for the sake of it but did not serve the purpose. However I knew, people would object if I took this girl without the mask into the store. I asked her to wait outside the store. I went in. I picked a few stuffs that could form a meal and got it billed. Strangely, the items I actually wanted was unavailable in the store. Sometimes we are at a place for a very special reason. The only stuff that got billed was the stuff that I bought for that little girl. I came out, handed the stuffs to the girl. She took it with disbelief and ran away with joy on her face.
As I walked towards my cycle, it struck to me that I could have made some business to the man who looked after my cycle. But then it was a late striking. Huh! sometimes things strike late to me. The girl already had fled. I thanked him and cycled my way home after shopping for few other things from the street vendors.
I reached home. I had a story to share with kids. At home, there was a different story going on. Kids were lying on the yoga mat facing the roof, giggling and making plans. As soon as they saw me, all 3 (my daughters and niece) had a mischievous smile and I realized there was some cooking that was going on before my arrival. I took my seat.
Slowly and softly same a sober musical voice "Ammaaaa, can we skip yoga today? Pleeeeeeeeeeeease."
"Yes, but then you will have to miss your TV watching as well." I winked at them.
(Background: It's a rule for kids at home that they earn 1/2 an hour of TV for every task. And 3 important tasks have been defined for them for any week day. Not per say TV for we do not have a set of box, to be precise, it's OTT. One of the task defined is to offer 24 suryanamaskaras. Other 2 being daily reading and waking up atleast before 8 AM. Lock down has had its effects on the routines. For kids it has been a huge one. They find their ways to escape through the day not paying attention to few essentials, while we parents find our ways to make them stick on to a few things. Parenting! - I wish it were as easy as I am typing here. The trail-error ways continues and at times I win, other times I learn.)
Coming back to winking. I refused their request and they made a face that could easily melt one down to say yes. Kids as I know are one of the best negotiators. Before I could melt, I deviated.
Looking at my younger, I said "I met a girl who was almost your age. And you see, she was not interested in chips."
All eyes and ears alert. I had grabbed their attention.
I narrated the girl's story. And then I said "You see she was not happy having the junk chips in her hand but was over joyed to carry daal home. What do you learn?"
"Sharing" came the reply from my elder.
"Did you take away the chips pack?" questioned my niece.
"I know, you want us to eat healthy." answered my younger.
"hmm no, she took the chips along with her. Yes, she thought of her family while seeking. hmmm occasionally junking is all right. If you don't eat at this age when will you?" I responded to each of them.
I continued "At times, I have seen you leave food on the plate. Next time when you take food on to your plate, I want you to think of that girl, who does not even have food to satiate her hunger. Aren't you lucky enough to have all that you desire to have?"
There was no reply, but then all 3 went into thinking mode and my intent achieved. Oh! they did finish up with their suryanamaskaras to earn their TV watching. Lucky enough! I was smiling.