No, I will not eat. I don’t want this stuff. You call this food? Who’s the cook? Bring the person to me and I’ll teach him or her to cook. Take me to the kitchen and I’ll show you how to cook food that’s palatable. A shrill but feeble voice was piercing into my ears, as I tried to concentrate on reading a book I’ve been carrying around for quite some time now. Mama, that’s alright. Please try to eat something. Look how weak you have become. Shall I ask them to cook something else for you? What would you like to eat? A soft voice inquired of the first and fuming person.
Unable to steady my mind and read further I sauntered out of my room in the direction of the voices. The room adjacent to mine was where these voices were coming from. Through the door left ajar I caught a glimpse of an elderly lady and another lady who was comparatively younger, seemingly a relative of the elderly lady. Seeing me the younger of the two invited me into their room. Rather sheepishly I walked in wondering if they felt that I was eavesdropping. The elderly lady wore a big frown on her face and sat cross like a small child.
Not knowing what to say, I introduced myself and asked the elderly lady what brought her here and what her ailment was. She sat there cross saying that she was fine but her children thought she needed some extra care and brought her here. She did not like the food served here and was hungry but unable to eat anything. Observing her while she talked to me I noticed that she was a very fair dignified looking lady with a Victorian look who would have easily been the heart throb of many during her hay days.
Coaxing her to talk to me, she gradually opened up taking a liking to me. At the ripe old age of eighty eight she prided in describing at length her lineage, mentioning that she was the daughter of a well known and upright person who stood for righteousness. Married at the tender age of fourteen and a half she took up the responsibility of her home looking after her parents in law and the siblings of her husband. During those times she learnt to cook and keep a house in order and tend to the needs of others. Along life’s journey she added children to her family and lost her parents, parents in law, husband and many others.
Her own children were in different parts of the country but she was happiest to stay out of the country with her son, having acquired citizenship in an alien land. Being a person having grown up and lived in style during the British rule in India, she had a liking for their ways. Immaculate cleanliness, crockery laid out in style, food appealing to the eyes and tongue, a breed of attendants at her beck and call was the least she expected. Cooked food had nearly stopped going down to her stomach as she loved surviving on fruits and nuts of all kinds and gulping down bottles of milk in one sitting as she told me with a wide grin on her face. Today she was grumpy about being restricted from eating the fruits and nuts she loved and drinking bottles of milk which had become her staple diet over the time and now restricted by doctors. Her daughter accompanying her thanked me profusely for having managed to talk her into eating at least something that was given to her while we were talking, which she did unknowingly. Food intake was vital as she had to have her medicines.
After spending a good hour hearing the lady’s story and talking to the two of them I took leave of them saying that we’d meet later on. In my room I thought about the different types of people I came across during my stay in this hospital these few days. The lady holding her head high in dignity, unrelenting to even her daughter made me wonder how some people adapt to changes whereas others cannot budge from their lifestyles. Having lived a life on her own terms she could not accept terms being doled out to her. Strange are the ways of the Creator.