Food of love and friendship
The train from Delhi rattled at Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) in Mumbai and the passengers, some of us a bit lost and confused, at the sight of a big city, running against time, plodded on the platform. After all, we are small town boys and girls, who were oblivious of each other’s existence and destiny that will bind us together. After all, we came to Mumbai to make our dreams come true, aspirant film actors, copy writers, journalist, home maker, tea seller and restaurateur.
As we jostled our way out of the station, sweating profusely among the maddening crowd, we were greeted to hesitant and sympathetic smiles and gestures signalling that we are united by our fate sealed in the city. We begged for work and turned out to be dejected as we languished in frustration, cursed our destination to dare to embrace our dreams in Maximum City. We survived on morsels and our paltry savings whittled away, surviving on a cup of tea and Vada Pav at the nearest tea stall. Often, we cried and yelled in pain, ‘Why Me? forgetting that we were not alone, going to bed on an empty stomach as we did odd jobs for survival in the city.
It was the first kick in the stomach and the butt, that never seem to end as we longed for respite and regretted that we choose the road less traveled. We were hanging by the thread and was often tempted to live everything and go back to our comfort zone, our small cities where we nestled in the love of family, faraway from the ruthless city.
Six Months Later
I reached Krishna apartment at 8 PM sharp in Malad and it’s been a train journey I’ve done for the past three weeks, traveling for one hour in the crowded bandwagon. I can hear the teeming activity in the room with voices and utensils clattered, clinking of glasses cum souls laughing their lungs out. I removed my shoes and smiled at the happy, familiar faces, sitting on their knees as the hot, crisp Puris ballooned their way on the plates. It was the same faces, fellow travelers who encountered each other, as they made way for me, late entry, as Shabnam aunty and his daughter, made delicious meals and Puris for us. Every time, each one of us, offered money to Shabnam aunty for the hotly served food, she scolded at us with a warning that next time, we indulge in money talk, she will throw us out of the house.
Shabnam aunty fumes, “How can a mom ask for money from her children? Just be honest, work hard, show a compassion, have a good heart capable of loving and never abandon your dreams. The biggest gift you can give me children is when you make your dreams come true. Then, you buy us ladoos.”
It was the first Monsoon and I was stranded at the railway station for hours and trembling like a tree branch, my body wet when a tall lady, accompanied by her ten-year-old daughter walked towards me. She asked, “Where do you live?” I muttered, “I just reached Mumbai three months back and looking around for job.” She gave a stern look and ordered, “It’s ok and looks you are hungry. come with me,” as she drags me out of the station and I was pushed inside the taxi, already occupied by five faces. On that day, Shabnam aunty rescued us from the angry rain lashing on the city and since then, not only our fate but destiny were sealed by our angel, Shabnam aunty. She not only fed us everyday but brought six lonely hearts together in the city and forging a bond of love.
Who says, the city is ruthless and one can never find love in Mumbai? We found a mother in Shabnam aunty, a cute sister in her daughter and friendship among lonely souls, whose destiny were sealed by friendship, struggle and, of course, hotly served Puri and meal, made with so much love every evening. We found our family as we pop the hot puri in our mouth.
PS: This is a story of fiction and written as part of Write Tribe Wednesday photo prompt, using IN, ON, AT (Prepositions of place) by Corinne Rodrigues. Make sure, you jump on writetribe.com and enjoy the weekly prompts.