When I was 8 years old, we had gone to Sariska, the forest park.
It was late evening, all of us the gang (all my parent’s friends and their children) had gone for a tiger safari to spot tigers in the jungle. It started getting dark. I was sitting a bit far from my parents with other children of my age.
Everyone was quite, whispering to each other. I was a bit afraid. The sounds of the jungle where enchanting. Suddenly the peacock and the monkey started giving scary calls to the other animals. Immediately our guide asked the driver to stop. Everyone stopped whispering as well. There was tension in the atmosphere.
Near our vehicle some shrubs moved. Our guide with his hand actions told everyone not to make any movements and the tiger was there.
We could not see the tiger but the bushes where moving, other animals where running away and I was feeling fear in all my body. I was feeling the chill.
Suddenly one of my uncle who was sitting next to me jumped and shouted “TIGER ! TIGER! There.” I seriously thought the tiger had jumped into the vehicle, I froze, could not utter a word, fear ran through my spine. The tiger heard the shout and he ran away into the jungle.We packed our tour and returned. By now it was pitch dark and it was scaring the hell out of me.
The coming nights I would get nightmares, tiger would come in my dreams and imaginations. If I was sitting alone in the room something moved I though tiger had come. Thus every night I would wake up and go into my parents room. For a few nights my parents comforted me, after a few days they would put me back in the room, talk it out and wait till I sleep and then they would go back into thier room.
Now this fear was not leaving me, it started giving me stomach aches. Every night I would go crying with stomach ache in my parents room. Mom dad thought the tiger story is still going on, I thought so as well.
Then once during the day I had the same stomach ache. Mom dad took me to my uncle who is a doctor. He checked me and told us “its appendix “. My parents were feeling shocked and guilty at the same time. For me apendice meant home, pampering, liquid diet only which was fun as there was always compulsion of eating green vegetables on regular days which I despised.
So the next 5 days I enjoyed the liquid diet. Mom made all sorts of drinks for me and dad pampered me , would call me 10 times from office, bring movies and at night taking me to the muncipal market to have thick-shakes and of course NO SCHOOL. Life was rocking.
Soon I had another attack of pain.We immediately went to my uncles clinic. He declared, “we need to operate now”. Before I knew it his small clinic was full with my huge family. My grandmother was sitting on the doctors chair behind his desk. It was rather a funny scene. This old simple lady wearing her white saree on her head and sitting on the doctor’s chair looking comfortable but clueless. I think if someone mistook her as a doctor and asked for advice. She would have said ” speak ram ram ram.. all day and you will be fine” ha ha ha!
All I remember the anaesthetist asking me to could 1 to 20 and half way through it I was gone, floating in some other world.
I got up on the hospital bed, operation was done, mom dad and my vanu uncle was there. Now for the next few days I had to be on liquid diet only.
Recovery was good but I was not liking the drinks. By the 3rd day I wanted to have solids. I was pleading my parents and my doctor uncle to allow solids. I wanted food, anything I could chew upon. I had strong craving but food could not be digested so it was a big NO.
Mom use to ask the cook to make all the foods I did not like then. Before the operation I did not touch chori sabji (chawli or chinese long beans) whenever they made it, so that night mom asked the cook to make chori nu shaak
Looking at the food set on the table, I begged my parents to let me eat. Mom explained to me how I cannot eat, just a few days more and that I don’t like chori nu shaak. I started crying. God knows how much pity and guilt my parents must have felt cause I tried a lot to make them feel.
My parents came up with a plan. They started a movie for me. As I got engrossed in the movie, they went to have their dinner. I had a plan of my own, I could not concentrate on the movie, I needed to eat some food.
We had a family ritual then, we would sit on the swing after dinner. Since I had just stopped crying, mom dad let me watch the movie. They with my little sister were sitting on the swing digesting some food.
I sneaked from the tv room, went out from the front door and went to out chokdi (wash area). I knew thats where the left over vessels are kept for the vessel washing lady to come and wash it.
Good plan! Among all the left over dishes there was left over chori nu shaak in someones used plate. Super! Food! I thought. Like a hungry beggar I hid my self behind the dustbins and started eating the chori nu shaak. Food had never tasted so good, so satisfying ever! First time this super spoilt rich parent’s child felt hunger and the value of food. It was tasting so good, heaven I thought.
In no time the househelp spotted me and he slowly went and called my parents. My parent did not know what to do.. they were shocked but they also were feeling pity for me. They did not know what to say, my mom came and sat next to me with tears in her eyes, her voice was cracking assuring me “beta I am really sorry you cannot have solids for few day please” . Without saying a word I put the plate down. My father carried me upstairs to the room. Hugging him I told him, “you know papa, chori tasted good.” So dad replied, “yes it is yum, next time eat it, soon you will be able to.”
We all laught at that incident now. All my uncles and aunts tease me till day about this incident.
But after that day chori is my favourite vegetable.
400g chawli (chinese long beans) finely chopped
7-8 cloves of garlic chopped (any patel recipe has lots)
1/2 tbsp red chilli powder ( According to taste)
1/2 tbsp coriander powder
2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp mutard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida ( hing)
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter add the hing and garlic. Cook for few seconds.
Add the chopped chawli.
Add the red chilie powder, turmeric, coriander powder and salt. Mix well.
Let it cook for about 10 mins on low heat, till all the water has evaporated.
It tastes awesome with hot bhakhari.
Also goes well it roti or kichadi 😊