THE MAGIC INGREDIENT
On a Sunday morning, Sheetal was deciding what to prepare for lunch. She was tired and did not want to end up cooking various meals for a family of three. Her five-year-old daughter Tara was a finicky eater. Healthy nutritional food was difficult for her to digest and on the other hand, junk food was easy to absorb. Sheetal had recollected that how fussy she had been when it came to food at that age. She had remembered how her grandmother had got her to eat the food that her mother had prepared for her. She wanted to try the same technique on Tara and see if it could work.
Sheetal recollected her childhood –
” Sheetal, Sheetal come here sweety. The lunch is ready.”
Sheetal had come running towards her mother. She saw her plate –
” Yucky. I don’t like this food. “
” Sweetheart, what is that you don’t like?”
” Mummy, I don’t like palak paneer. I mean I love paneer but not the palak. So I will eat only paneer.
I don’t like the vegetables in the sambar- carrots and beans. But yes, I will eat only potatoes in it. Curds…no no-no.”
” Sweetheart, these are healthy foods. You need to eat them. Then how are going to become stronger and taller and smarter ?”
” Mummy, I love pizza. You top these vegetables on it. I will eat it.”
” Yes. I have seen you eating your pizza.
You remove all the toppings and eat only the base.”
Sheetal had started removing all the vegetables from her plate.
” Sheetal, no darling please eat it.”
Sheetal had paid a deaf to eat to her mother. Meanwhile, her grandmother had arrived and witnessed the scene.
” What is going on Sheetal?” Asked her grandmother.
” See Amma, she always does this. I am tired of telling this girl.”
Her grandmother remained silent for a while. Then she began –
” Priya did you tell Sheetal about the magic ingredient you have added to this food?”
Priya had looked at her mother. Not knowing what she was was talking about. Her mother then looked at Priya and winked.
” Oh yes, I forgot about it. ”
Sheetal looked at her mother and said –
” What magic mamma?”
” Magic ingredient darling.”
” Magic what??”
” Ingredient. I have added something to this. It will help you grow stronger, taller, healthier and smart. ”
” Yes, Priya. Look at you. You were short, thin, weak. Then when I started adding this magic ingredient, look at you- his you have transformed.”
” Then Mummy why don’t you put it on my paneer and potato only?
Why does it have to be in the sambar and gravy and the curds?”
Priya and her mother both looked at each other. They were puzzled. They did not expect this from Sheetal.
” It does not work like that Sheetal.”
” Why not naani? Why? Then buy another magic which works that way.”
” You mean magic ingredient right?”
“You don’t get that type of ingredient sweetie.”
I meant that kind of ingredient is not available. If it is added while cooking the meal along with other vegetables or fruits or your milk only then it works. You should eat a combination of all of this.”
” What about pizza, finger chips, candies? I can eat a combination of all of this too.”
Priya looked at her mom and gestured her to explain it to Sheetal. Priya was exhausted from answering her questions.”
” Come to naani Sheetal. I will explain it to you while we eat your food.”
” Alright naani.”
From that day onwards, Sheetal was eating her meals without being fussy.
Sheetal had a broad smile on her face recollecting those memories.
She had also remembered that how she would come to her mom and tell her how well she had progressed since then.
” Mummy, I think I have grown taller.”
” Mummy, I feel stronger.”
” Mummy, I came first in the running race today.”
” Mummy, I stood first in the class .”
Sheetal had finished cooking the lunch. Her husband was out running some errands. Tara came running to her mom –
” Mummy, I am hungry. What is there for lunch?”
Sheetal had decided that she will try the magic ingredient formula in case her daughter behaved finicky too.
” Tara,I have made -Daal, aaloo methi, chapathi, buttermilk and fruit custard.”
Tara thought for a while.
” Mom, no aaloo methi, no buttermilk.
What are the fruits that you have added in the custard?”
” Apple, banana, grapes, mango, dry fruits.”
” I will eat only banana and mango.”
” But Tara what about other fruits?”
Tara nodded her head and said no.
” Tara, what if Mommy tells you that I have added a magic ingredient to this food.
Then will you eat?”
“What magic ingredient mommy? What do you mean by that?”
” It helps you grow stronger, taller, smarter, healthier.”
“Are you sure Mommy?”
” Yes, Tara.”
Just then, Sheetal’s phone started ringing.
” Tara, it is Priya naani calling. Ask her she will tell you. She gave it to me too .”
Sheetal had put the phone on speaker.
” Hello naani, Mommy was telling me that you added some magic ingredients to her food. ”
Priya paused. Smiled and recollected those days.
” Naani, can you hear me?”
” Yes, Tara I can hear you.
Your mommy is right. I did add the magic ingredient to her food. Look at her – isn’t she beautiful, smart, intelligent, stronger?”
” Yes, naani. Mummy isn’t scared of cockroaches. She killed two cockroaches a few days back. She is strong. I am scared of them .”
Sheetal overheard the conversation and giggled. Priya on the other side of the phone had started laughing.
” Tara, sweetie – I am sure you want to be strong too? For that, you need to eat healthy nutritious food your mummy gives you .”
Priya and Tara continued talking over the phone. In the meantime, Sheetal had served lunch for Tara. Priya tells her granddaughter Tara stories about girls who had that magic ingredient and how they had transformed. As Priya narrated the story over the phone, Sheetal fed Tara. Tara was carefully listening and enjoying the stories.