“Oh! Mom! Not Roti again?” Malhar scoffed on looking at the lunchbox his mother had packed for him. “Can’t you prepare something good?”
His mother silently listened to him. Cursing his mother, Malhar left for school.
During Recess, he bought snacks from the canteen.
“Hey Malhar, did you not bring your lunchbox?” his friend asked.
“Uh no, not today” Malhar lied.
Dissatisfied, he had thrown the contents of his lunchbox in a dust-bin.
“Mom, please don’t embarrass me in front of my friends tomorrow on my birthday treat” Malhar chided his mother that evening.
Next day, for his birthday treat, his mother cooked his favourite dishes including a big chocolate cake for him and his friends. After, Malhar blew the candles and the usual birthday rituals took place, everybody got a big chunk of the chocolate cake. “Umm… this is yummy, aunty!” one of his friends with a fat tummy praised, nibbling onto his piece. His mother smiled.
Eating the first piece of cake was a piece of cake for Malhar. He hunted for the second one and bit the soft bread slowly which was layered with chocolate sauce and cream. He closed his eyes and enjoyed each and every bit. Each bite gave him immense pleasure. He licked the chocolate sauce stuck on his fingers and slowly opened his eyes.
“Oh God! Where am I?” Malhar found himself on a strange deserted footpath. He walked forward. “Hello? Anybody, there?” he screamed. He kept walking but could find nobody which scared him. He started to shiver sensing something insidious. “Mom! Mom! Help me!” he screamed, on a verge of crying.
Suddenly, someone tapped on his back. He turned to find a girl dressed in a white gown. “Who-who are you?” Malhar questioned.
“I am Alimah, an angel. I see you finally realize your mom’s absence”
“What do you want?”
“I don’t want anything. But you certainly need some lessons to be taught.”
“What kind of lessons?”
“Here, hold my hand. All your questions will be answered.”
Malhar held her hand and within a blink, they reached a new location.
“Oh! What was that? Where are we?” Malhar asked, totally astonished.
“Not too far, we are still on the same footpath.” Alimah explained.
“Now look carefully” Alimah pointed towards a skinny man. “You see that man? He begs all day. He collects all that money and buys food for his children. You see that packet in his hand? That paper scrap contains curd rice. Look at his smiling children, how happy they are. They have been hungry since morning. The man is somehow making an effort to keep himself and his children alive. Today, they will sleep peacefully. People like them are not lucky every day to earn food and some even die of hunger. You know why? Because it is not easy to buy the food that you eat or rather throw away.”
“I-I get your point. I am sorry f-“
“Not yet. Hold my hand, again” Alimah interrupted. Malhar followed her and held her hands. Whoosh!
Unlike the previous location, this was totally crowded and the people were rushing haphazardly towards the same direction.
“Where are we now? Why are the people running?” Malhar asked curiously.
“Let us follow the people and you will know” Alimah replied. Malhar followed her.
“These people are flood victims. Their houses have been ruined and they have nowhere to go. They are being supplied with food packets and if they do not rush, they won’t get their share and they will have to starve for indefinite time. By the way, they do not have much of a choice. It’s either do or die. Also, they cannot demand for their favourite dish here, you know. They have to eat what they get.”
“I understand now. I will never de-“
“Not yet, boy. Not yet. Hold my hand.” WHOOSH!
And they reached their third destination which Malhar understood, was clearly a village. “Follow me” Alimah ordered. Malhar followed her and they reached a small government run primary school.
“You see those children queued-up with plates in their hands? They are the children of farmers, maids, smiths and potters, almost of your age but a lot less demanding than you are. They do not get healthy, nutritious food packed with lots of mother’s love in lunch boxes from their homes. They rely on not-so-reliable mid-day meals which are funded by not-so-reliable government. You know how many children die because of that? And then there are children like you. Not fair, at all.”
“Err… I am really sorry. I understood what you wanted to teach me. I will never repeat my mistake again. Take me back to my home.” Malhar pleaded.
“Well, kid, the only place you deserve to go is hell. You look delicious. I will enjoy nibbling you…HA HA HA!” Alimah laughed bitterly.
“But you said you were an angel..?” Malhar cried.
“Did I? Oh kid, you never know who is masquerading. I am a devil in disguise….HA HA HA!” Alimah opened her satanic mouth to eat him.
And Malhar opened his eyes, sweating and screaming “Mom! Mom! I am sorry, I am sorry. I will never demand anything. I will eat whatever you cook. I am really sorry for my deeds…”
His mother smiled, ran her hand over his head and calmed him down.
Written for the Nibble Promptly contest.
Thank you Meera Rat for this opportunity. :)
Thank you Meera Rat for this opportunity. :)