A Lockdown Story Of The Shared Meal

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Life is too short to keep worrying about things that are not in our control. Perhaps, that is something that this Novel Coronavirus has eventually taught us all. Very often, we tend to grieve over our past failures or stick our neck out for the unseen future. This lockdown phase has reminded us all to slow down and enjoy the moment. The rush, the harsh words, the unspoken bitterness have now subsided to a more pleasant and calm bearing. While for most of us locked down inside the safe abode of our homes, it is quite a likeable phase. Only now and then do we find ourselves being dismal at being prisoned inside the four walls. But, every story does not have a similar happy flow. There are many out there in want of food, medicine or even shelter. There are many out there trying to protect you from catching the sickness, fighting in the frontline, shielding and nursing you. Honestly, life does not seem to be a bed of roses for them. Many of us have even come to believe this disease as a wrath of God, as nobody is also allowed to gather together for their religious activities, and all the doors of temples, churches and mosques remain shut unwontedly.

That is when I realised my purpose during this time of hardship. I figured out that sitting in and enjoying all the benefits of my safe abode is not what I as a responsible and humble citizen is called to do. I stumbled upon a bigger goal. It is this moment that I should seize to make a difference in someone else’s life, and in a whole be a standing example for others to follow. I teamed up with my mates, not just to try and raise funds for those in need, but to stand as a real soldier in the frontline. I dug into my contact list and sought those in authority to help me with my aim. They willingly nodded a yes. I obtained a pass for me as well as those who were ready to support me in this activity. We maintained a safe distance, but yes, all, including my family members, came forward for this genuine cause. The savings were low during this crisis, but the returns eventually turned out big. The reserves that I had been sheltering for a long time for a future benefit came handy now. Since I gained the full trust of my kith and kin, they dare not ask me how the funds were vanishing into thin air.  

My comrades went to the grocery stores and procured the goods in bulk. Practising all the safe hygiene, we had concluded to prepare a high-energy meal that would consist but the same ingredients. It would help us exercise impartiality and build trust among the giftees, and perhaps be more cost-effective. I cleaned up one room of my apartment to devote to this noble reason. Together, we set up all the paraphernalia there. I saw the inhumanity, the patriarchy, the age bars slowly peter out. It was an all-new feeling, an all-new aura, all new humanity, an all-new awakening of the dead spirit of Mother Nature within us. This pursuit reminded us that household chores are not just a woman’s business; it was a bond that should rest equally between all, irrespective of gender, age or creed. My happy bunch included Sardarji from the opposite door, Aba Jaan of my young colleague, my Catholic mates with their family, my kids and their classmates who opted in, among many others.  

We embarked on our mission: Together We Can, Together We Will. The stove was ignited, the oil sparkled, the spices went in first, then the onions, the chopped vegetables and the salt. The flame went to a medium, and the lid covered. When opened, and the right simmering is done, the rice went in, followed by double amounts of water to cook evenly. Lastly, a handful of nuts, fried onions also went along with butter. This time the covering was ever more tightened and sealed. Twenty minutes passed by, the scent of the cooked meal flushed across the walls. The aroma spread across the neighbourhood from window to window. The gas was now turned off, and the pot was taken down the stove. The central part was now. We had purchased aluminium serving boxes for secure packaging and distribution. The food usually remains hot for a long time in aluminium containers. All the more, aluminium does not harm the environment. It decomposes by chemical reactions. Therefore, not only were our food-grains cost-effective as purchased in bulk, but the outcome was favourable to our Mother Nature also. Owing to the intense rays of the sun, practically evident throughout the summer season, we had arranged for a bottled water dispenser apart from cans of mineral water from a known supplier.

Now was the time to act. We set forth. Wearing masks and gloves, carrying our pocket hand sanitisers and separate bottles to drink water from, and keeping an adequate distance from each other, we switched on the ignition of our motors. To keep up with the orders, we accommodated ourselves in different vehicles, each carrying our pass. From the many that began this service, only about 10 of us stepped out to serve, lest we create a ruckus for the force. We travelled through the edge of our state border road and found multiples of migrants sweating it out, because of no roof over their heads due to the current pandemic. We remember distributing the meals to nearly 600 of the stranded crowd. With content in our heart and smiles in their eyes, we left with the remaining lunch boxes. We gave the extra meals off to our soldiers: the police force, the CISF personnel, and the domestic workers, whom we came across on our way. It we did by routing our vehicles in different directions so that we could reach a greater mass.

We continued our trips of sharing meals during the whole lockdown period and are still doing so. Apart from the full-fledged meals, we gave off some snacks and savouries to our real heroes out there. It was accomplished by the undying spirit of the woman of our house, once we were done with the preparation of the feed. Each day we give off about 600 boxes to the needy. Seeing them fill their tummy and stand up again, our anxiety about them somewhat eased up. We went out to turn by turn so that each of us got a chance to serve humanity with our own hands. Many hands and feet are working behind the scene all the while, and for sure many such unsung heroes are living their life for others by sharing with them whatever the little they have. But even in their dearth have they found an abundance of grace. Our only prayer is that the world strives to overcome this virus by helping each other out in such crisis and abiding by the regulations of the authority.  

I salute to all the Covid-19 warriors. With one accord, we will overcome one day.

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