Friday, October 15, 2010

"Mummy, Bhook lagi hai" ( Mum, I'm hungry)

Zoya ran up to me and said she was hungry. I asked her what she wants to have. She replied promptly- Chocheges ( sausages). Opened the refrigerator only to find that the usual packet of  frozen meats was  over and had not been replaced. Called my help and asked her in a firm tone why she had not told me that the sausages are over, Zoya will now have to stay hungry blah blah.

I sounded pathetic even as I said this. I was annoyed that a packet of sausages  were not there. She could have just about anything else. What if, for a moment, I had nothing at home? What if , for a second, I imagined myself as one of the hundreds of mothers in this country, whose little daughters pitterpattered upto them in baby steps saying- Ma,  I am hungry- and I had just nothing to give. Sent a shiver down my spine.

I remember my grandparents' house with the  joint family back  home. The milk would be mixed with water  so that there was enough for the fifteen children . It was called "gakhir paani" ( milk with water). My cousins were so used to it that they thought this was the way milk was had. Noone ever felt sad or deprived.

I have done focus groups with mothers across the country who  tell me stories of how , with recession, they make vegetables with gravy so that they don't have to make daal, which is expensive to the point of being a luxury. One mother smiled and said her child is very happy- says the vegetables taste so much better with the gravy. Again, no complaint. Just a smile that says- we can manage and we do it very well.

Children talk to me about how they "share" a plate of chaat or golgappa or a Mc donald's  aloo tikki ( potato) burger. They do this happily. Sharing while eating out has been a way of life.

There is a reason why most mothers in less affluent families have their meal after the entire family has had their fill. She can then give up her share of the rice  or chapati to  one of her ever hungry brood. Her body has gotten used to a meagre meal or even a glass of water most nights.

The Global Hunger Index  2010 rates India lower than Rwanda and Sudan in Hunger Quotient.
Children across the country are going to bed hungry,  cooing themselves to sleep over their mother's lullabies. Mothers across the country are over worked and under nourished, trying to find indigenious ways of  lighting the kitchen fires everyday.

Yet we are also one of the countries with a high Happiness Quotient.
We have religion, we have family, we have hope and belief.

That each day will be better than yesterday. And that tomorrow will bring a new ray of hope.

I  applaud these mothers and the sense of positiveness and hope they imbibe in their families everyday.
So what if there is just a handful of rice to be shared at night.

And  I humbly realise that  instead of berating over a  packet of sausages, if I  start sharing what I have, in a small way, with  families less blessed than me in terms of wealth, I can make at least one child sleep  peacefully with no hunger pangs. It can make a difference.  A huge difference.

1 comment:

  1. Sharing is joy... a simple, long-forgotten truth. A thought-provoking post, in the truest sense of the word.
    Glad to have discovered your blog!