The smoke from the mud oven irritated Lakshmi’s eyes. She stood up from the floor where she was sitting on her feet with folded knees. She moved a few steps to take the sticks for the oven.
It was a single room hut where she lived with her son Muruga in a South Indian village. That single room was their drawing room, bed room, dining, kitchen, and everything! There were some mud pots in a corner near the mud oven. A few shirts hanging on a rope. Those were their wealth!
Lakshmi’s husband died after fighting for a long time with tuberculosis when Muruga was only a child of two years. Her life was a terrible struggle to bring up her son. She couldn’t educate him properly because of her own ill health.
With all her strength Lakshmi blew the fire pushing some more dry sticks into the oven. She had kept the bundle of dry sticks in the corner of her single room house. She had spent the whole day in collecting that firewood and sticks. She was fighting with smoke and fire in her cooking.
With great difficulty the rice in the mud pot began to boil.
Her eyes were looking a the door less entrance with anxiety. It was time for her son Muruga’s arrival. He left the house with some porridge early morning to attend his job in a quarry. The whole day he had to break stones into small pieces for which he was paid a mean wage at the end of the week. During the lunch break he would take the porridge which he had left as balance after taking a portion of it in the morning.
Lakshmi picked some firewood sticks which would minimize their expense a little. It was very difficult to manage their two stomachs with the poor wag that Muruga brought.
“Lakshmi, would you please lend me a piece of dry fish, to catch the rat that is troubling us a lot?” neighbor Parvathy entered Lakshmi’s hut, expressing her request in a long tune.
“Sure, Parvathy, a few pieces of dry fish are left in a pot. Muruga brought it from his working place. Here it is,” she took a head piece of a small dry fish from a mud pot and gave it Parvathy.
“It’s a surprise that you haven’t finished cooking yet!” wondered Parvathy.
“Yes Parvathy, my son likes to eat only hot rice. He works hard from morning till evening. He doesn’t like eating cold. It’s time. He’ll come now. He’ll be happy to eat rice hot!”
Parvathy looked at the oven. A big pot! A large pot which can accommodate to cook rice for at least ten people!
“But such a big pot for just two of you? Any guest coming?” asked Parvathy with inquisitive eyes.
“What you say is correct Parvathy. A smaller pot is enough for two of us,” Lakshmi hesitated to continue.
Leave the matter Lakshmi, I’m sorry if it wounded your feelings,” Parvathy apologized.
“There’s nothing wrong in telling you the fact. Muruga will get his wage only tomorrow. There was only a little rice in the pot which I have cooked now. I can feed my tired son with that rice. If I had cooked in the smaller pot, he may know that there is nothing left for his mom and he wouldn’t eat to his full. That will wound my heart very much. If my son is satisfied that’s enough for me!”
Parvathy easily understood the great concern of Muruga’s mom!
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