“Misry. Quickly keep the toys in the box and come for lunch.”
“Misry. Did you hear what I said?”
Still no response.
“Are you coming or should I come there?”
“I am coming, Ma.”
In less than a minute Misry showed up at the dining table. Three four dishes of various Bengali delicacies were lavishly displayed on the table. Madhavi was serving the plate.
“Ma, you cooked all these?” Misry asked eagerly.
“Yes cutie pie. All are your favorite!” Madhavi answered looking lovingly at the girl.
“But I don’t want to eat all these. I want omelet.” Misry said.
Madhavi gave a contemptuous look.
“I have spent the entire day in the kitchen only to hear this?” She wanted to shout back. But instead she replied smiling, “Okay dear! Here comes the omelet for you. But don’t go to play again. It will just take a minute. ”
Madhavi went back to the kitchen while Misry pulled back a chair and sat down at the table.
She watched out of the window. The Jawans were assembling in the langar for lunch. langar was the big camp kitchen that provided meals to all the non-family residents of the camp including both officers and Jawans. Dal, roti, sabzi and once a week meat and egg were usually on their menu list. And on special occasions like the Bada Khana they served the special dishes.
Misry had a special liking for the food prepared in the langar. Firstly, the food had a manly touch compared to the female touch which meant more oil, more spices and “Tadka”. And secondly, they cooked food in huge Chulha unlike the L.P.G gas cylinder at home. Thus, the food had a different taste to it.
Misry tip-toed out without anyone’s notice.
When Madhavi came she found just a vacate chair.
“Now where is she gone? Raju have you seen her?”
“No Mashi. I just came in.” Raju replied.
“I am really fed up with this girl now. Whenever it is meal time she just runs off. Raju, will you please go and check in the Langar. I am sure she is there, sitting among the Jawans, eating her favorite Tadka Dal.”
Raju went out to look for her. Indeed there she was sitting with the Jawans, on a wooden bench under the tree in the open, having her favorite Tadka Dal and roti .
“Misry, Mashi is calling you. Come fast!” Raju commanded.
Since the Jawans were not allowed to bring their family in the camp, they had a special liking for Misry. Her presence and innocent questions reminded them of their children whom they missed very much. They loved to have her around and treated her like one of their children.
Since she had a special liking for the langar cooked food the Head Cook separated a small portion for her and added his special spices to it. One of the cook had also made a small bench and table for her to sit and eat with the rest of the platoon.
“It’s Okay! Raju. You can tell Memsahib Misry is having lunch with us today,” replied the cook.
Raju went back and told Madahvi. She was little disheartened. Her only daughter loved food elsewhere and not the home cooked dishes. How hard she tried, Misry would always run off to the langar and demand food from the Head Cook who lovingly prepared it for her.
In the evening when Anurag returned home, he saw his wife very disturbed. He asked her what the matter was. When Madhavi shared her woes Anurag could not help laughing.
“So now my dear wife is competing with the Head cook. I am sorry about this Madhavi. But frankly, I was expected something more serious from you,” said Anurag amusingly.
“Yes, you will say this but never understand my problem. Being a mother I am doing everything to make her eat at home but she will always talk about the Langar ka Khana. I am warning you I will go back to my parent’s house if you don’t take care of it,” wept Madhavi.
“Oh dear! How can you do this to me? I can’t let you go. Who will take care of me in your absence? ” Anurag teased her.
“Why you have your Orderly and your entire platoon to take care of you? Why me?” Madhavi sounded annoyed.
“Sweetheart. You don’t mean that, do you? I love food cooked by you. I don’t like the langar food. So why punish me for Misry? ” Anurag pleaded.
“Because she is your daughter and loves to remain outdoors just like you,” complained Madhavi.
“Now you sound jealous dear. Tell me the real problem that is bothering you,” Anurag wanted to hear patiently.
“I want to learn the preparation of Langar Tadka dal which my daughter eats so lavishly sitting out there,” Madhavi replied shamelessly.
Anurag laughed his heart out. “Okay dear, I will ask Heera Singh, the Head Cook, to pay you a visit tomorrow morning. Will that be fine?”
Madhavi hugged her husband.
Next day Heera Singh came to teach Memsahib the preparation of his secret Tadka Dal recipe and Madhavi cooked the item for her lunch menu.
Finally when Misry saw the Tadka Dal served on her plate she looked at her mother and grinned. She quickly finished her meal she said, “Ma, you made it just like the Cook Uncle. It is so tasty.”
Madhavi was thrilled to hear that.
“But Ma, can I go there please?” Misry asked.
“Now why?” Madhavi questioned.
“They tell me stories of their children back at home and I enjoy that very much when I eat.” Misry replied.
Madhavi kissed her daughter and allowed her daughter to go to the langar during lunch. She was embrassed of herself. It didn’t occur to her that the little girl could have some other reasons also of going there.
Deep down her heart screamed, “Don’t GROW UP MESSY!!”
Glossary* Mashi- aunt
Jawans – Soldier langar-Community kitchen Dal, roti, sabzi- Regular Indian food
Bada Khana- Big fest Chulha- brick oven Tadka dal- Indian cuisine
This is #day5 of the AtoZblogging Challenge throughout April.
26 stories in 26 days. I am attempting very very short stories series with GROW UP MESSY – The sweet sour story of a 5 year old girl. Follow my blog for the next story of Messy.
You can read the other post in the series here