Class Three was in a shambles. Notebooks lay wide open on the desks, bags were strewn over the floor and smelly, muddy feet tapped anxiously, waiting for the teacher to dismiss them for lunch. Right now, the teacher’s voice seemed muted to Sid, just like the TV at home, when Papa wanted to get in a few words with Mama as she sliced chillies for the dal. He looked out of the window idly, getting impatient. His mother had packed his favourite food for lunch today, methi paranthas. Umm, the golden brown rotis speckled with green and drizzled generously with oil, with a side of a spicy curry. He just could not wait.
” Children, wash your hands and start eating!” The teacher’s voice suddenly blared into his ears, no longer mute! Sid dashed off to the washroom. Back in class, he spread his napkin neatly on the desk and took out his tiffin box. It was his favourite day of the week anyway : they had reading, sports, music and dance lined up for the afternoon. The methi paranthas were just the icing on the cake. He heard Sparsh and Karan fighting in the row behind him. Who cares, he thought and opened his box.
His tiffin box was on the floor, his parathas all over the desk. That Karan, he just did not know to mind his own business ! Sid was seething for revenge. He grabbed Karan’s arm and pinned him to the chair.
“Why did you do that? Now, I have to go hungry!”
Karan was an energetic boy, but not a bad sort. He apologized and said, “You can still eat it, it is on the desk, not on the floor! ”
Sid started to sob as he said, ” My mother asked me not to.”
The teacher hurried in to see what the commotion was all about. As the boys explained, Sparsh piped in, ” Ma’am, his mother has asked him not to eat food that was spilled, not even on the desk! He is only following her words! ”
The teacher smiled to herself and asked them, ” So boys… Sid cannot eat this food now and Karan is sorry for what he did. What should we do now?”
Karan hugged Sid as he said, ” I will share my lunch with him. My mother has made pulao today. Can we do that, Ma’am?”
As the bell rang for the next class, the boys were seen laughing and eating, the methi paranthas forgotten for the love of a kind that only eight year olds possess.