E for Egg

 

Ashu woke up to the sound of the milkman’s cycle bell. He stayed in bed for some more time snuggling up to his grandma and reveling in her warmth. But the lure of the dewy morning proved too much for him and he ran out without even stopping to brush his teeth. He loved to roam around outside in the compound in the stillness of the morning. The dew drops formed tiny sparkling ornaments on the leaves and the air was almost sweet in its freshness. The only sounds were the chirping of the birds and the swish of the broom while Amma swept the courtyard. Ashu had often heard his Achan(father) extol the virtues of life in the village. This was one point on which 6 yr old Ashu wholeheartedly agreed with him. Both of them had quite a number of arguments on quite a number of topics, most of which revolved around studies. Ashu considered school a necessary evil. He would have loved to be born in pre-historic times when man only had to worry about food and safety. Imagine how exciting life would have been ? No more sitting in boring classrooms. He could roam around the jungle the whole day with his friends and come home in the evening to his mother who of course would have a warm hug and bowls of hot rice and fish for him. Wait, would he have to make the bowl himself ? Would he get bitten by scorpions ? His teacher had said that scorpion bites were extremely painful. Ashu’s thoughts on life in the jungle were cut short by his mother’s voice.”Ashu !” she shouted loudly. Amma sounded annoyed. She must have been calling him for some time.

Ashu rushed to the kitchen where she was sure to be found during the morning hours. She was busily mixing the batter for dosa (rice crepes). “Ashu, quickly drink your milk and get ready for school” Amma said hurriedly. Ashu loved the former activity and hated the latter. “And Ashu, can you let the hens out of the coop?” Amma requested in the same breath. Before she could give him any more instructions Ashu sprinted to the hens’ coop. The plump birds were displaying their displeasure at not being let out by clucking spiritedly. All of them hurried out, like busy matrons out to attend a bargain sale. Ashu glanced in the coop and let out a shout of joy. There were two eggs inside ! He loved eggs. The previous haul of eggs, which had been significantly more, had been sold to the uncle who ran the small teashop nearby. On seeing Ashu’s disappointment Amma had promised to give him 2 eggs the next time the hens laid them. Carefully removing the eggs from the hay in the coop, Ashu rushed to the kitchen. He couldn’t contain his excitement thinking of having yummy eggs. When he placed the treasure in front of Amma, a smile broke out on her face. She lovingly caressed his hair and promised to prepare them for his evening meal when he returned from school.

Ashu’s day passed in a daze. He couldn’t pay attention in class and his mind was not on the games they played. Visions of the lovely white eggs floating in rich brown gravy danced before his eyes. Amma was 7164672737_6e0fea70cd_m sure to give soft white idiappams with the egg curry since she knew it was his favourite combination. Just the thought of dipping the soft strands of idiappam into the fiery gravy made his mouth water. The shiny whites of the boiled egg would glisten with drops of gravy. Ashu just wanted the day to end, and when the bell rang signaling the end of classes, Ashu took off like a shot. He didn’t stop for his customary chat with the old men who gathered on the bench outside the library in the evenings. He jumped across the small canal where he normally spent some time just gazing at the tiny fishes and even trying to catch some. The newborn calf next door just got a perfunctory pat since Ashu couldn’t wait a second more. He took off his shoes and kept his school bag in its rightful place without Amma having to shout herself hoarse. He quickly washed his hands and sat at the table shouting to Amma that he was ready for his meal.

Amma came out of the kitchen with a smile and placed a plate full of steaming idiyappams in front of Ashu. She then disappeared into the kitchen and came out with a small bowl containing sugar and kept it next to his plate. Then she sat next to him lost in thought. It took a minute for Ashu to realize that he was supposed to have idiyappams with the sugar. “Where is my egg curry?” whispered Ashu in shock. Amma was in her own world and didn’t hear him. Ashu repeated the question in a louder voice. He was almost in tears by now. The entreaty in his tone seemed to snap Amma out of her thoughts. “Oh that. Darling, your uncle was here in the morning. He’s not well you see and has to go for a check up in the town hospital. I made him egg curry for lunch. Don’t worry, I’ll make egg curry for you the next time we get eggs.” Ashu’s disappointment and sorrow could not be contained any longer and he burst into tears. Amma looked at him in surprise and wondered why her normally easy-going son was crying. Maybe his teachers had reprimanded him that day. She resolved to pay more attention to his studies in future.

(This is part of the A to Z challenge, where the participants have to blog every day in April, excepting Sundays. The titles of the posts should start with different letters of the alphabet, starting with A on April 1st and moving on sequentially. The theme I’ve selected is Stories. Just hope I can keep up with the ‘march of the alphabets’)

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7 thoughts on “E for Egg

  1. Lovely story. I love the economy of it, and my heart breaks for Ashu. The story makes me want to be a better parent– to be more cognizant. Thanks so much for posting this!

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    1. Thank you Melinda 😊
      This has happened to me when I haven’t paid attention to what my daughter says and end up disappointing her. To me it was a minor issue while for her it was very important. Now I’m more careful in such matters .

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  2. I really enjoyed this…Ashu’s character rang very true to me. Young children do fixate on the trivial promises…and give them the full weight of something more serious. If I could wish anything for this story, it would be that we’d get mention of the eggs within that first paragraph. I realize you were setting the scene and building the character (and did a great job) but with a short story, I really want to narrow in on the conflict or issue right away. Just a thought.

    That said, Ashu really rang true for me…I’m not familiar with the foods described but didn’t need to me because you provided delicious details as Ashu spent his day obsessing over his coming meal…and I totally get the (understandably) oblivious Mom who sees that there’s an issue but, being a grown-up, can’t identify the trivial nature of it.

    Very nice!

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