Through his eyes – 8

Every single grocery store looked just like the other and they used to sell same commodities like rice, lentil beans, sugar, cooking oil sold from large tin containers and customer had to bring his or her own metal or porcelain container to carry it to home, biscuit of only one variety was available which was ‘Britannia Thin Arrowroot Biscuit’ sold from a large tin container, which used to spread a pleasant smell the moment its lid was opened. Every grocery shop had few large glass jars, about ten in number which were filled with pickles, they looked so old that nobody knew when they were made and nobody knew who purchased those, their quantity always remained unchanged in their containers but those were the first items which drew the attention of anyone who had visited the store. Dry substances like rice, beans, sugar &C. were sold in paper sacks which were available in different sizes starting from 50 grams up to few kilograms. There were few local families who used to make those from old newspapers, old books &C.

The grocery stores used to provide day-to-day need of supplies to those who were daily wage earners; at the end of the day while returning from work they purchased their daily need of rice, whole wheat flour, cooking oil, sugar, salt, spices &C and carried home in jute bags. Upon their return, their wives would start cooking either outside the house or in unroofed veranda by burning wood available in countless number of bushes which she had collected during the day along with few other edible stems and roots which grew everywhere as well as clams and snails collected from fresh water. She first served the food to her husband and children and finally tried to fill her own stomach with whatever would remain in the cooking vessels. Most of the time there would not be enough for her and she would be scratching the bottom most part of the cooking pot probably thinking some miracle would happen and the vessel would be filled with rice that would satisfy her hunger whose burning presence she had been feeling every single day and night. Those days her husband would not be able to bring the daily supply of food grains either because of his illness or because he could not find any work for the day, she would borrow some rice and flour from a neighbor and feed her family.

[To be contunued]

email: mintughoshal@gmail.com

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