January 18, 2011

Tea, peanuts and more

Someone says the man in Shiloda village, outside Akola, has a BPL card. He nods his head and tells his wife, "Bring the yellow card! The yellow one!" Minutes later, she gives me their orange ration card. Maybe they can't find the BPL card just now. Anyway, with one or the other or both of these cards, they are eligible to buy 20 kg of wheat and 10 kg of rice a month, for a total of Rs 100. They also get some sugar and kerosene.

She uses too much of the sugar to make us some tea, it's that sweet. He is actually shivering as he brings the tea to where I sit, on a cot outside the hut on which he has laid a mattress and a sheet, all just for me. I tell him, please go make yourself warm. He walks over to a small fire and holds his feet above it. I sip my tea, dipping into it one from a plate of small rusks he has also brought me. On this chilly morning, the hot sweet liquid hits home something fierce.

Minutes later, a young girl grabs my hand and says, come and have my mother's poha. Even as I start saying no, I realize how much they want us to eat with them, so I say yes. Take off my sandals, bend low and walk over the mud floor -- cold like ice on this chilly morning -- to the tarpaulin they have laid out for us.

The mother, a broad-shouldered handsome woman in a sari, is getting ready to make the poha over a fire in their hut. I watch as she quickly and efficiently slices chillies and onions and some other stuff, then flings it all into a vessel that sits on the fire. In minutes, a small steaming plate is in front of me, and the first thing I notice is that it also contains peanuts. I have never had poha with peanuts. It is excellent.

Two young boys sit beside me, watching me eat and smiling. I hand them my notebook and ask if they will write their names for me. In spidery Devnagari, they do so. Then one takes the book back and writes in English: "HANPH". He gives it to the other, who writes: "NIASR". Thus do I get to know Hanif and Nisar, who spend most of the rest of the day wandering Shiloda with us.

Why aren't you in school, I ask.

We heard you both had come to our village, says Hanif. So we came to see you.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

A day in the life of Shiloda. The mother was a broad-shouldered handsome woman. The father was a lissome beautiful man? Then,playing truant with the two young boys. The pohas sounded good though. Why do you think you deserved the royal treatment? Tell us more.

Ugich Konitari said...

A tree
amidst many
striving to
grow
in Shiloda;
dry leaves,
cracked trunks and all,
still puts on
a cheerful face
to the Sun,
and to the
flying birds,
that occasionally visit....

The leaves flutter,
some branches
lightly
enjoy the birds footfall;
a peck into the blossoms here,
a bite of a fruit there,
and the bird,
observes his horizon,
and takes off
for new destinations.

The tree,
smiles,
and
looks up
into the Sun
again.

Sometimes
it is difficult
for other trees
and even other birds ,
to understand...

Jai_C said...

"...Why aren't you in school..."

you probably included the girl in that query but somehow it doesnt read that way since that para only talks abt the boys' prowess in devanagiri and english. hope she's going to school as well.

thx,
Jai

mayank said...

I wouldnt know where in world Shiloda is - looks like some part of Mahrashtra. Handsome woman - was that some kind of joke?

Aditya said...

Mayank, Urban dictionary (I am sure it is not as authoritative as Webster's but nevertheless) defines "handsome woman" as: A woman with the kind of refined beauty and attractiveness that requires poise, dignity, and strength of mind and character, things that often come with age; not merely sex-appeal.