It was the period of geography and while the teacher was busy teaching, the students were keenly waiting for the bell to ring. Their focus was more on the watch than on the books.
The bell rang followed by chaos and shouts. The students got relief from the studies for a while. The whole school became lively. Some ran to the canteen, few to the restroom while others occupied the stairs. Yes, it was the lunchtime for the kids; the time to eat, chat, play and laugh.
Like others, even before the bell rang, Shakti was anticipating to see what lies in the red lunchbox of Vishal. Similarly, this boy Vishal, too, was wondering what his best buddy would buy in the canteen.
“Let’s rush to the canteen first, else we will be standing back in the queue, waiting long for our turn.” Vishal’s hunger pangs were invincible.
Shakti nodded. They ran carving a path through the crowd of pupils. There was no such thing as a ‘queue.’ Everyone was screaming at the top of their voice.
“Bhaiyya, two samosas.”
The hungry duo waited for a while and got the hot and spicy samosas.
“Let’s sit on those stairs.”
While the junior students were gay chasing each other, some were devouring their food and few talking with their mouth full; our two young boys were busy swapping their food. Something they were doing for almost a year.
“Oh, it is poha today. I love it. Actually, I love everything aunty cooks, be it paratha or idlis or bread pakodad.” Shakti’s taste buds were grateful.
“And I love samosas.” Vishal’s tongue smacked his lips as he perspired. “The peanuts and paneer make it more yummy. If you were not there, I would have never been be able to taste them daily.”
The two growling stomachs were satisfied. One was elated to get home cooked food while the other relished the canteen’s.
Nothing was same after Shakti’s mother was bed ridden due to a stroke. He became more responsible towards himself and his mother. His father shared his wife’s responsibilities. Shakti pressed his own clothes and got ready for school on his own. One cook used to come to prepare the lunch and dinner but nobody was there to make the tiffin early in the morning.
Shakti’s father started giving money for his lunch daily. Initially, it sounded great to Shakti, but monotonous later on. He started missing his mother’s food. “I am bored of eating canteen’s food. I wish my old days to come back.”
“Why can’t I have samosa for today’s lunch Ma?” Vishal insisted almost everyday.
“We can’t afford to buy it, beta.” His single mother had the same reply everytime.
It was one sunny days of April, that Vishal sighted Shakti sitting unenthusiastic with samosas. There was no looking back since then.
Those two hungry boys swapped not only their food, but also their jokes and worries, smiles and cries. Yes, they were bonded by food.
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