“Arun, the food in the plate is getting cold. Why aren’t you eating?” asked Lalita
“I hate this South Indian food that you make daily. I will complain to dad that you are starving me often if you do not make pasta, noodles or North Indian food, “replied the 8 year old boy.”
“I love to cook different kind of foods for you, but this cannot be a regular occurrence. Your dad also does not like them much. I cannot make many varieties daily as I have to rush to office. Be a good boy and eat what has been served,” explained Lalita with a great deal of care and concern.
“No, I would rather starve than eat this horrible stuff,” defied the brat.
“Do not try to black mail me. If you starve for a day it will not hurt you. If you are not eating, better go to your room. I have already explained to you why and if you still have a problem, there is nothing I can do.
“I will not only tell dad that you have starved me but also thrashed me when I protested.”
“When did I ever beat you? Why are you lying? I have given you lot of affection, but you still hurt me when you talk like this. Tell your dad what you like, but my conscience is clear” said Lalita
Ravi lost his first wife when she gave birth to Arun. He struggled bringing up the child despite having the help of his sickly mother. He refused to marry again despite his mother’s pleas. After his mother’s demise, things became worse. He lost opportunities of promotion as he would not go to other places. He confided his problems to his colleague Lalita who always gave him a patient ear. Gradually their meetings grew frequent, and both soon found they were in love. They got married once Lalita expressed her willingness to be a mother to the boy.
Lalita really liked the boy and took care of his needs without any prompting from Ravi. Being disciplined herself, she tried to inculcate the same in the slightly wayward boy making him do things like getting ready for school on time, doing homework without fail, and keeping his things at appointed places in an organized manner. He resisted this and rebelled sometimes. Lalita would not easily let go. But in the matter of his food she was not really very strict. Every now and then, the boy would demand a pizza, chat, pasta, tacos, or noodles and when refused would threaten her. Often she would give in more out of affection than fear.
She was expecting daily that Ravi would talk to her about the boy’s complaints when they were alone. But he never spoke about it. He was loving and affectionate to her as ever. She wondered whether he was waiting for her to broach the subject lest she got offended. She could not bear the suspense of his total silence. When they were alone watching TV one day, she decided to ask him gently whether Arun had complained about her.
“Ravi, I think I have been a little strict with Arun on his doing home work, tidying up his things and getting ready for school bus. I have also not allowed him to eat often the junk food that he is fond of. He rebels no doubt. I do pamper his taste buds once a while and not whenever he wants. I wonder whether he spoke to you about this,” she asked softly.
“Good you are disciplining that brat. He is naughty sometimes,” he said
“You haven’t said whether he spoke about my disciplining and refusing to yield to his demands.”
“Frankly he has never spoken a word against you. In fact he was telling me one day that his teacher was praising him for not failing even once to submit the homework and that the credit went to you. He likes you very much. Why did you ask? Did he ever threaten that he would complain to me?”
“Yes, he always does that. That was why I was a bit concerned” she replied
Suddenly she found herself hugged from behind by tiny hands. She turned to find Arun giggling accompanied by Ravi’s laughter. The boy sat on her lap and said “Amma, I love you more than my dad. He calls me naughty and a brat.When I came to drink water I heard what you were telling dad..I am sorry for scaring you with the threats that I would complain to dad. I found it an easy way to get a Maggie or pasta from you though not as often as I would like. I promise I would not do so again.”He added innocently, “Tell me,Amma, is it wrong for a young boy to love pasta, noodles and such?”
“No, not at all provided it is not eaten frequently,” said Lalita even as she hugged the boy smothering him with kisses.