By Ratikant Satpathy *
As the headmaster’s family, we were generously allotted a thatched house inside the primary school compound. Life was happy with not a care in the world, almost no ambition and very little exposure.
I must have been around six years’ old at the time. Parents in those days were never that strict about studies, hygiene, friends and stuff like that. The only thing that would have bothered them was TV, which was out of their reach. Electricity was only available in cities. During those days, one of the few celebrations at home was ‘food’. Even there, the options were limited; my mother used to encourage me to eat whatever-was-there as if there was no tomorrow. And, I never disobeyed her, at least in this aspect.
There were some special days in life too. I used to wake up at midnight hearing loud conversations between my parents and the village Mitthaiwala. He was tipped well to come home after a long, hard day’s work. Between buying sweets and making sweets, people with our kind of income always chose the latter. The reasons were obvious. We wanted good quantity at cost price. With all ingredients supplied by us, the obese Mitthaiwala used to roll out a wide variety of sweets: mouthwatering Jalebis, Laddoos, Bundis and – on the rarest of rare occasions – Supercool Rasagolas too.
Food was the only luxury our parents pampered us with. It was considered some sort of crime those days to prevent kids from eating as much as they wanted. With no knowledge of calorie counts or fear of rising sugar level, I used to have a field day gorging on all kinds of delicacies.
Earthen pots filled in with varieties of sweets hung from the bamboo frames of our thatched house. Standing on a turned-over iron bucket, my tiny hands grabbed those sweets in turns, more frequently than Pepsi plays its commercial during a cricket match.
Today I am a diabetic. My Doctor treats me as if I am still that six-year old. No sugar. Never!
The earthen pot still sits on my mind. While preparing for my daily dose of insulin, I imagine standing on that turned-over iron bucket. My heart reassures itself; “I had my share of fun. May be a little too early!”
* Ratikant Satpathy is a Management Consultant