I often miss my childhood days. Who doesn’t!
I must have been around 6 or 7 years old. The day was Janmashtami which was dear to me for two reasons- sweets and holiday. Holiday meant freedom from going to school. For that matter, every festival held the same significance then.
My brother, younger to me by two years, proposed a plan- ‘we should observe a fast like the elders. They will be impressed.’
I agreed and we communicated this to our mother, arranging containers in the kitchen. Contrary to our expectation of earning admiration for the decision, she seemed uninterested and a little shocked. Her children were uttering Greek and Latin that day.
She told us in a straight forward manner- ‘go and play and if you both have nothing to do then watch TV with Papa. No fasting. Finish the milk in those glasses.’
She tried her best to make us gulp the white liquid but we, the determined rebels were far from giving in. Our strong resolve was not to be deterred by anything. We were after all great fans of Bhishma Pitamah aka Mukesh Khanna who appeared on TV every Sunday at 9 or 10 am (don’t recollect the time) in ‘Mahabharat’ on Doordarshan and later as Shaktimaan in the tele-serial by the same name.
A side note: It was due to this serial that the original carton of our Onida TV was all holes. It was placed on top of the cupboard in the store room and thoroughly pierced with bamboo arrows shot from bows made by two mighty archers – my brother and I. Each bow was made from single and long bamboo stick, slightly bent and tied with white thread on both ends. The arrow was a simple straight stick. By placing the latter carefully on the thread of the former and pulling back the string and letting go, we managed to aim right. The carton was our Bhishma Pitamah and we considered ourselves to be Arjun. The numerous bamboo arrows piercing the carton were Pitamah’s bed of arrows.
Now that’s a different story how our mother scolded us whenever she noticed the poor and thinning bamboo-broom bereft of most sticks.
When I look back, I realize how much the idiot box had influenced us.
Our temporary abstaining from food and liquid and subsequent little mutiny in the kitchen had cemented the grit to copy elders. My brother somehow managed to maintain his poise till 11 am and then decided aloud to betray me. I reminded him of his vow, placated him but to no avail. At last I tried the last sentence in my arsenal- ‘what would mummy say if she saw us eating after what happened in the morning’!
This worked. Only partly. We were both hungry now but since the question was of our pride, we decided to wait for mummy and papa to go to the market as per their plan. Moment they left, we rushed to the kitchen. My brother cracked 3 eggs in a bowl, I added salt to it, turned on the gas, placed the tawa, poured little oil and down-poured the yellow liquid from a distance. Omlette was ready to be scrapped within a minute. I turned off the burner. Few slices of bread from the refrigerator with omelette- we relished the brunch greedily. This was our meal on Janmashtami that year.
(Yes I could prepare an omellete at that age)
We were extra careful to clean the place thoroughly and throw off the egg shells away from the house to leave no trace. Surely mummy didn’t suspect us at all or may be pretended, I cannot say for sure.
Today, as a grown-up caught in the mire of prevalent religious belief forbidding consumption of egg or non vegetarian food in most parts of India during festivals, I can only smile at the innocence of childhood and that special day when my brother and I had an egg on Janmashtami.
Do I regret it? Did something bad happen with us after eating that meal? Did the lord punish us?
Lord was generous then, is generous now and will forever generous be!