Shanta upturned every container in the house.
Not a grain was left.
Her sons aged eleven and seven, would wake up any time now and ask for breakfast.
It was nearly an hour since her husband Ramji had gone to the ration shop.
During the ongoing pandemic, families falling under a stipulated income level were to get a free grocery kit from this month. A family of four could survive on it for at least ten days. But for the past week, each day only brought disappointment. The kits never reached the shop on time, or the queue was so long that the kits were over by the time Ramji made it to the counter.
Ramji, an auto driver, had no job since the pandemic started, and Shanta, a daily laborer in construction sites, also had no work. Somehow they tide over these seven months with their meager savings and selling some gold ornaments. But today, the situation was grim.
Shanta’s heart twisted under her breast when she found Ramji returning with the empty bag again.
“The supply did not come,” he said, gesturing to Shanta to get some water.
“What are we going to do now? I rested assured of ten days’ food when our neighbor said the shop is less crowded today.” Shanta tried to fight back the surging tears.
Ramji shook his head in agony. “Let me go and see if I can find any odd job. How long can we continue like this?” He got up with little hope. He had been making futile rounds every day.
“What job are you talking about? Nothing is happening in the city. You get reprimanded by the cops for flouting rules and moving around.”
Shanta suppressed her sobs and removed her earrings, the only gold left in the house. Someone knocked at the door as she was about to hand it over to Ramji.
“How many members are in the house?” Asked one, amongst two young men, holding what looked like food packets.
Bewildered at first, Ramji regained his composure and said, “Four.”
Each of them handed four packets of food to the couple. “This is breakfast and lunch. We will come in the evening to give you khichdi for dinner.”
“Is this a miracle or magic?” blurted Ramji.
The men laughed in unison.
“The company we work for spotted your colony amongst many in a survey as one with many residents below the poverty level. Our management has applied for funds to continue this generous act of providing three square meals for all the colony residents until the pandemic reduces and things get normal.” One of the men explained.
“Miracles just happen, but Magic is what we make, Bhau*,” they said and hurried to distribute the food.
Bemused by their words, Ramji and Shanta stared at their retreating figure.
Their elder son, a fifth-grader, looked at the company logo on the food packets and read aloud.
“Magic is what we make.”
Bhau—–A term used to address an older person.
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