Butter as oil….
It happened to me when I was in my 8th grade. The summer holidays had finally ended and I was prepared to go to the aashrama the very next day.
I had to wake up at 5 in the morning in order to catch the bus on time which would eventually take me to the aashrama.
Even before I had realised, it was already morning and I had to rush to the bathroom to have a quick head bath. There was a not so big a black vessel half filled with lukewarm water waiting patiently for me to empty it. Unfortunately, the half cut Nandhi bar soap which would sit on the shelf was over. Quietly assessing the poor situation of our family in my mind, I finished bathing without using any soap.
As I was wiping my wet hair and putting on my clothes, my mother asked me to light the sacred diya kept in a corner shelf between the pictures of Gods and my dead father who had left us even before I could properly call out his name. When I was done, I asked her for an incense stick which she said had got over three days ago. After lighting the diya I sat down on the uneven floor of the kitchen to have my breakfast.
Since I would return home only after a year and I was really fond of rice, my mother with great difficulty had managed to get a glass of raw rice which she proudly cooked for me coughing helplessly every now and then unable to bear the smoke of the burning firewood that was shoved up inside the old chulla. And even though I liked rice I just didn’t want to have anything that morning because all my desire was burnt in the fuel of poverty. But I didn’t want to let down my dear mother and waste her efforts, so with a heavy heart, I had the rice with sour curd. Just before I had eaten the fourth morsel of rice my eyes were filled with tears imagining the wrath of poverty which had struck my family.
Once I was done with my breakfast mother wanted to comb my hair neatly, since my hair was pretty rough and messed up, she wanted to oil it. She searched the whole house for just a single drop of oil, yet she couldn’t find it. Cursing my dead drunkard father and her ill fate, she took a small bit of butter which she was able to find, rubbed it between her palm and smeared it all over my hair, trying her best to cover every bit with whatever was left. She couldn’t control her tears while doing so. Every now and then she would wipe her wet eyes with the help of her old torn saree.
Although she had promised to walk with me till the bus stop to bid me goodbye, she wasn’t really in such a situation. So I bent down, touched her feet, while seeking her blessings and walked towards the bus stop carrying all my belongings, I didn’t have the courage to turn back and wave at my mom for I felt that it would hurt her to find me crying.
Or rather I was afraid that my heart would shatter into pieces seeing her cry even for just a second more. Five minutes after I reached the bus stop my bus had finally arrived as usual I settled at the back seat of the bus crying my heart out…