Cravings and Noodles

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

I and my brother were extremely eager to taste the newly launched noodle brand. After our much efforts we could manage to buy that but, when we had its first spoonful our opinion about it was somewhat changed!

 

 

Our enthusiasm ran riot when a very popular noodle brand of today was first launched in our country. It was the year 1983. I was seven and my elder brother was thirteen. The ads displaying boiled steaming noodles rolling over a fork with its drooping loose ends would leave our mouths drooling.  Soon the ads invaded our impressionable minds and held on to our imagination. Our classmates had also left no stone unturned in showering praises of its taste leaving our desire inflamed. We craved to taste it at least, for once.

 

The kitchen budget used to be under the strict control of our mother and the monthly grocery list was fixed. We strictly stuck to our indigenously grown foods and we didn't believe in consuming any packaged food item. We were not provided any such pocket money as most of the children get it today. So, it was unimaginable for us to buy it in our fancy.

 

I and my brother persistently tried to convince our mother how it would set her free from making our breakfasts amid her busy schedule for she had to get ready for her school early in the morning. Yes, she worked as a primary teacher at a state-run government school. Despite all our convincing, she looked unrelenting to our demands.

 

Every time we pestered her, she would say, "Look, boys! I must tell you, you will not like such noodle – woodle! These are not fit for we Indians' taste buds! Your better enjoy your milk – bread! or curd with chapati Okay!"

 

But, our temptation grew with every passing day for every route that we followed for going to school or tuition or moving to the stadium for playing cricket,  all got spluttered with the ads of this product. on large billboards.

 

A couple of days later, we approached our mother with an offer.We said in unison, "mummy if you promise us to buy the noodles we promise you that we will help you with your kitchen work!" And we meant that, though we only had to sacrifice our comic book reading to keep our promise.

 

Not to our much surprise, she relented. But, we had to wait for a few more days for the grocery was purchased on the first day of each month as my mother's salary would get credited on the month-end.

 

Since that day we only waited for the beginning of the new month. And the day came.  I accompanied my mother, straps of a jute bag were slinging from my shoulder as we headed to the shop to which we paid a ritualistic visit on every first day of each new month to buy the grocery for the kitchen and other cosmetics and sanitary products for themonth.  Though my mother preferred to buy groceries by cash, still, on later days whenever we required any item we would buy it on credit from the same shop.

 

 For me, visiting the store had been an exciting experience. On my visits, I would stand outside of the wooden counter, and on the inside of the wooden counter would remain hunched the shop owner on a plastic chair. To me, he looked like Skeletor, the villain of the cartoon series He-Man, one of the favorites of kids those days. The shop owner wore a dhoti over a full-sleeved kurta and kept smoking on his bidi,  the smell of the smoke I thoroughly relished.

 

The walls of the shop were fitted with wooden pigeonholes. These remained cramped with a mishmash of items of daily usage. My eyes would involuntarily begin to scan through the length and breadth of its walls. The cosmetics items had been placed in a separate display with a see-through sliding glass shutter. The transparent shelf displayed riots of colorful bottles and vials of perfumes and tubes of shaving cream.  The fragrance of perfume and hair oil, dissolved into the surrounding air would unfailingly attract me.

 

But this time my visit was somewhat different from all my previous visits. My eyes were desperately searching for something special --  somethingthe image of which got etched into my mind's eyes. My eyes strayed up and down, left and right, and finally stopped at the cluster of yellow plastic packets atthe heart of which printed its catchy slogan in red. My face was aglow with a feeling of wish - fulfillment.

 

On reaching home,  my elder brother capered about the grocery bag as the tribal people would shimmy around a sacrifice, and in the next moment, he pounced at it, fumbledinside the bag and whipped out the yellow packet, and flourished it at me like a magician.

 

My brother's next move seemed like preparing for a war. On the kitchen slab sat a stove of brass color. In the early 90s, we used to have a stove that fed on kerosene oil. Having tightened the stove knob he pumped pressure into the kerosene tank and a jet of oil gushed out from its nozzle and got collected into a round copper tray. My brother struck the matchstick on the dark brown dotted surface of the matchbox and inflamed the tray. A cloud of black smoke filled inside the kitchen but soon settled down ontothe surrounding  walls wooden racks.. He pumped the stove again till a strong flame of orange, yellow, and blue appeared with a continuous humming.

 

I helped him snipping the packet and pouring the dried, crusty contents of the packet into the boiling water put on the stove. We followed its catchy slogan that contained the message of women empowerment. Speaking it in simple terms, we boiled it for two minutes – not more or less.  We even kept track of the precise time keeping an eye on the wall clock hanging over the wall in the room. When two minutes are over my brother let loose the airfrom the tank that passedout with Phissssss…

 

We dished out the entire lumpy, soupy, hot, steamy noodles swollen like tapeworms into four bowls and put them out on the plastic table where our mother and sister waited discussing  something. We put our forks in our bowls, twisted strands of noodles around the forks, and tossed it hot and streaming into our mouth. We gazed at one another with a feeling of dismay eloquent on our faces.

The first feedback came from us as she said, "hadn't I told you? But do you boys ever listen to me!"

 

My and my brother's faces flushed as if we were stung by a scorpion  Within a minute we came round from this unexpected shock. Still feeling exasperated I turned all our bowls over before our pet dog Jackie, who seemed to have munched on it and soon slurped down the entire serving and licking his bowl cleaned.

 

I raced to the kitchen, gathered the snipped pieces of the packet, and skimmed through the instruction manual that we had ignored to read in our over-enthusiasm.

 

Running our eyes around we soon spotted silvery glistening pouches lying over the kitchen slab as if laughing at us. We had realized our mistake of forgetting to add the  Taste maker to it.

 

Now as the truth was before us. We could do nothing but chuckle at our fate.

 

 

 


Submitted: April 04, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Rajiv Sahay. All rights reserved.

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Serge Wlodarski

Guys don't like following instructions. Age does not change this. Good story.

Sun, April 4th, 2021 12:00pm

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Reply

Right!

Sun, April 4th, 2021 5:26am

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Short Story / Memoir