Partaking of food with ‘friends’ : The Tribune India

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Partaking of food with ‘friends’

Partaking of food  with ‘friends’

Photo for representational purpose only.



Dolan Bardhan

THIS happened a decade ago, when my daughter was a pre-nursery student. As the school was less than half a kilometre away from our house, I would prefer to escort her on foot rather than make her travel on the school bus. I carried her schoolbag containing textbooks, notebooks, a pencil box, a water bottle and, of course, a tiffin box.

The school authorities were very strict about the tiffin. Never did they allow fast food or even ‘semi-fast food’ for the children. Instead, they encouraged homemade chapattis or parathas with vegetable dishes. Both the tiffin box and the water bottle had to be of a non-plastic material.

However, I had no problem on this count. My daughter’s favourite tiffin was chapattis and thick potato curry. She generally had one chapatti at home. But I packed two with a sufficient quantity of a vegetable dish in her tiffin box. To my surprise, I noticed that the box came back empty almost every day.

Needless to say, I was delighted to presume that my daughter was enjoying her meals in the company of her schoolmates. Besides, I taught her to share her tiffin with friends. And she would stammer out the names of her friends with whom she was purportedly partaking of food.

One day, I had to go to the office of the block development officer for an urgent piece of work. I was not sure how much time it would take to get the work done as I apprehended that there might be a long queue at the public service counter. As my husband was not around, I decided to first pick up my daughter from school and then go to the office with her. I met the principal and made a request. She asked me to wait until the tiffin hour was over.

I was sitting in front of a casement window overlooking a small playing ground beside the principal’s office. A few minutes later, I saw students rushing out, still licking their fingers, to wash their hands and mouths. Suddenly, I noticed a small group of girls, including my daughter, holding their tiffin boxes and running towards the school gate. There, a few puppies, trying to creep through the gap under the gate, were waiting for them. The girls were feeding the puppies from their tiffin boxes.

When I tiptoed near them, I overheard the girls calling the little creatures by the names that I had heard my daughter reel off at home. They had let the cat out of the bag. So, those were her ‘friends’, who were helping her polish off homemade food!


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