Featured: The Rice Bowl

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I was astonished to see how she scrapped the last few morsels of rice from the bowl. I wondered why she was so particular about cleaning the bowl in that way. I looked down at the heap of rice that had been scrapped from different bowls in the same manner.

Some of us have the luxury to choose what goes in our meals, they don’t. There is not much difference between our life and theirs as far as food is concerned. Both our lives revolve around food. We work to enjoy and earn a lavish buffet and they work to arrange each meal. It was very depressing to see how they had to depend on others for every single meal of the day.

With great pride, the head sister showed her monthly planner. How different people or companies sponsored some of the lunches and dinners. This month’s birthday bash (a day to celebrate everyone’s birthday) was to be sponsored by a famous IT firm. Just so that we do not run out of options, she immediately proposed the idea of sponsoring any meal for any other day of the month. I looked at her freckled fingers, tired but satiated eyes, grey eyebrows and wondered how many years must have passed since she is taking care of all these old people. As I looked at her, I heard Mr. Francis walking towards us, slightly out of breath and smiling enough to reveal his uneven teeth structure. He was just back after showing the old age home to some visitors like us. We unanimously declared that we wanted to explore the place ourselves. He tried to hide the relieved feeling from us and we acknowledged it by smiling back. Somewhere deep down I had decided to have minimal conversation with the inmates. I know it would have defeated the entire purpose of the visit but other wise it would have been difficult for me to control my emotions. Every wrinkled face had a story. A story that I would have loved to listen, if I had courage to hold back my emotions.

As we walked pass the lobby, we met Mr. Iyer. He struggled to walk and very thoughtfully decided the path he choose to walk. He must have wished if he could choose his destiny. His left upper body was paralyzed thanks to the mistake of a naive doctor, who gave him a wrong injection. I had tears in my eyes as he narrated his story. I just looked away trying to seem as neutral as possible but could not control the emotional knot in my head. I greeted him and moved further. Some of them were napping and others preparing to reach the common dining area as it were lunchtime. I was glad that I had an activity to look forward. I wanted to get my hands on something useful to take my mind off the story I had just heard.

I met Mr. George fixing some old battery operated cars,. An engineer by profession he was in this condition because of his son, who, all his life cared about his next peg. The drinking habit had made him push his father to this old age home. Mr. George discussed many electronics related issues with us and I loved his expressions when we could not answer his questions. It gave him a sense of pride about his in depth knowledge and we did not mind. We helped him wrap up his stuff as he spoke about his daily routine. My heart wretched to see some oldies struggling to catch a breath with every step they took.

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The lunch was served on small tables. One table was shared by four people. They all had the we-are-there-for-each-other look. We served them their meals and took rounds to ensure that their platters were filled. In no time we were taking rounds and collecting the leftover food. I liked the system. We took a trolley around and started with curry first. Collected the bowl of curry and sabzi from each table . Then we took another round to collect the remaining platters. Back in the kitchen, all the hands were moving fast to clean those 150 plates, bowls and glasses. Right from collecting the bowls to arranging the plates in the cupboard, every thing seemed to have a pattern. And, I must say, a successful pattern. Our natural indolence took a back seat and we gave our heart and soul to the chores for the day. Another sister explained the entire PROCESS of collecting food. We collected the dal and sabzi from all the containers and poured into one big container. She thought of teaching us the most efficient way of cleaning the food containers. Her hands slowly reached the bowl of rice….

13 Responses

  1. sam Says:

    took me back to a time years ago (July, 2005 to be precise!!), when we had celebrated a cousin’s first b’day at an old age home. My first glimpse and the images are still etched clearly in my mind. They have been pained and hurt by the ones most near and dear to them and yet they live… enjoy life… stand by each other and perhaps show more mental strength than many of us are capable of!!! heart wrenching to say the least

  2. Ashish Says:

    Touching is the word which comes to mind .. and so true

  3. Kavita Says:

    I am reminded of one particular incident when I happened to visit an orphanage and I peeked at the musings of a guy who was busy scribbling into his notepad. Those words I can never forget, he wrote
    ‘I wish I can paint my life black so that no can see through it.’
    I was flabbergasted, he was just a kid and at such a young age life had taught him everything .He knew life is just one huge competition where you are competing all the time for love, affection, money, time and what not. Those words tore my soul and I realized we do nothing in return just get on with crawling through each day putting on a fake plastic smile.
    Folks it’s no time for sympathies and empathies, all they need is our love, care, a feeling that makes them wanted. No day would be more fulfilling than a visit to an old age home or an orphanage, reading out a book to a child and donating some of your pocket money for a good cause.
    Great work nikita!!

  4. Pritish Says:

    Such a reality but such expressive words.

  5. meghnak Says:

    I don’t know what to say! my eyes are certainly moist after reading this post. Touching and so….so true!
    keep writing..and caring!

  6. Divkiran Says:

    This is indeed what life really is. Not a bed of roses for many… and for those who are blessed with everything…well they must count their blessings every moment and thank god for it everyday.
    Old age, of all the things, certainly does not count for a blessing… I have seen my grand dad literally deteriorate due to alizimer and trust me it was not easy. It’s true…it’s all about loving them and showing them that you care… it’s more than enough for them. And regrettably, that’s what we all are running out of… we seem to have everything to brag about… be it money, be it position, be it our laurels…but love and care, things that doesn’t cost a dime, are no more a luxury that most of us have. I wonder sometimes if the human race is really progressing.

    Thanks for sharing this nikita..

  7. Vinni Says:

    @meghna…i was touched too. there is a lot we tend to ignore. if only we looked beyond the obvious. there is so much to learn

  8. Vinni Says:

    @nikita. its a great post you have written and its been really appreciated by people, as u can see here!
    and guys who are commenting now, the article is by nikita, and not me. all wishes go to her!

  9. neha Says:

    great article. it only goes to show if we all do our bit, we can all change the world. its a great thing you have done nikita. and Life in 360 rocks. keep on with the good work.

  10. Tanuj Says:

    Life is like the change of seasons. I am young today yet I still feel that I might have a future that would be mundane. the thoughts give me shiver. What is really amazing is the spirit with which they live. I have met quite a few elderly people who even though living with their children were more or less abandoned. What amazes me is that all that they want is for someone to give them some time. During the conversations I hardly needed to speak . They have seen the world and have so much of knowledge about society and people that is unimaginable for us.

  11. meghana Says:

    This post reminds me of the movie Baghban ….I really shudder to think how our gen would face old age….

  12. Archana Says:

    Rather than just comparing with some incident or some people we met… lets try our level best not to let this happen to any of our dear ones.. how ever adamant and how even inflexible they may be.

    We are busy, we are having our own problems but does that give us the right to be out to prove “survival of the fittest”.. atleast with our own family members.
    Trust me its easy said than done. All of us who have read this we should keep this in mind going forth.

  13. meghana Says:

    @archana

    it is humane to draw parallels to our lives or incidents :)

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