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Friday, April 2, 2010

Adventure in the paddy and ragi fields...


Paddy Fields

As the sports made me come out of my silence my sister got to be friends with me again. She could not put up with a ‘gloom and doom is all mine’ look .. And as soon as it let go of me she was back as usual sharing my pranks and adventures.
One day we decided to visit the paddy and ragi fields in the village. One of her friend’s families owned a huge field where ragi and rice was grown. One Sunday we had our breakfast in a hurry and went over to the fields. My sister’s friend Sakku (short for Shakuntala) met us near the railway tracks. The fields looked like green ocean and we could never make out where the boundaries were drawn. But the farmers knew exactly where their fields began and warned us of trampling their crops as we walked by. I made a complaint we were not elephants and we all were chased by the old farmer.. we ran bursting out in loud guffaws and ran until we reached the field we were supposed to reach.. WHEW!!!!!
Some members from her family were already busy with work. There were no trees at all and I wondered where they took rest when they grew tired of work and sun. Sakku’s mother told me that they never grow tired of work and sun because they were made of hard mud or something like that which I had difficulty understanding because they looked exactly like us: made of flesh… Whatever, I decided that I did not want to spend the whole day where there was no shade at all.
First we had taste of fresh raw rice and ragi.. and amazingly they tasted good and so different from the food we eat. Then my sister and Sakku caught an insect she called Jeerjimbe which was green and very shiny. It measured around 2 cms and looked like this.
It lived on Avarekayi shrubs which bordered her fields. That was her gift of remembrance for my sister for the first visit to her fields. She had a match box with her in which put it carefully with one avarekayi leaf. My sister who hated bugs was for some reason was overjoyed at this gift but I whined in protest because I did not like confining the poor bug in a box. I always respected freedom and that meant freedom of bugs too. I only got back few glares and shhsshhh quite .. you are too small to talk big things kind of dialogues which I got too often. Sigh! I wandered around a lot in the fields all alone and once I shouted for help thinking I saw a snake which was just a climber created to deceive the poor me.
Finally it was time for lunch and everyone sat around in a circle in a clearing and the lunch was spread. To my horror it all looked like really hard mud rolled into balls no wonder the Mom had informed that they were not made of flesh like us..
The curry of avarekayi was smelling good but I had never seen a ragi mudde ever in my life and I did not want to eat it. My sister whispered or precisely hissed in my ears
“Wipe of that ‘I just saw a ghost’ look from your face. It is not going to eat you”.
“ I am not going to eat him either”
“It is not male”
Sakku’s mother who heard us whispering asked what happened and my sister sheepishly answered that ‘I’ did not know how to eat a ragi ball. I declared even she did not know how to eat it and got pinched by her.
“ I can’t imagine anyone not knowing how to eat a ragi ball. It is one of the most nutrient good food children can eat. All you have to do is break a piece of it and dip it in the curry and swallow the piece. Take care not to chew it. It will not be good if you chew it. This food is swallowed as whole”
Saying so she started to eat the lunch with her family. My sister was waiting for me to start and I was waiting for her to start. Finally my sister shivering a bit broke a piece of ragi ball and put it casually into her mouth. I followed her and did the same but even though I willed myself strongly not to chew it my mouth disobeyed my orders and chewed on the piece of ragi ball. Slowly it stuck around everywhere in my mouth and I had to role my tongue to clean it up and swallow it. To my horrific surprise I seemed to like the taste. My sister on the other hand did not seem to like it but tried to eat it with a smile to please her friend’s family. By the time I reached eating half the ragi ball I had been skilled in dipping it in curry and swallowing it without chewing and I relished the lunch. My struggling sister seemed to envy the way I could adapt to lunch of her friend’s family. I enjoyed my mastery of eating ragi ball as much as I enjoyed eating out in the fields under the small shade provided by some unknown tree.
After the lunch everyone spread there on the grass and had some rest and then got back to work. I could not rest and so ran about everywhere and was bitten by some stupid ants and hurt my knee by falling down on some cleverly hidden stone.
To be continued……

The Avarekayi

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