“Since when did you start developing a taste for boiled vegetables?” my ever-observant grandmother asked me when she saw me making a face at the bowl of chicken curry and helping myself to an extra serving of boiled vegetables.
No one liked having vegetables for lunch in my family, especially my feisty little sister. She is the one for whom my mother worried the most. She is the youngest in our family of seven (my parents, grandparents, our pet dog and I) but the most head strong of all. There is never a dull moment when she is around. And her love for food was known to all.
It came as a shock when she was diagnosed with jaundice. The otherwise chirpy and happy 8-year-old girl was turned into a cry baby. We saw her health deteriorating fast and she was bed ridden for weeks. The doctor had advised us to keep her diet simple and avoid all fatty and non-vegetarian food. Her meals consisted of meager portions of boiled dals and vegetables and fruits became her snacks.
We saw her losing her healthy appetite and the once chubby girl was reduced to just bones and skin. Her diet was her Achilles heels and we didn’t know how to help.
It was then we all started making small adjustments in our meals too. My grandparents, who never skipped dessert in their life, started showing no to sweet dishes after their meals. My father, who could never had his meals without a healthy serving of fish curry, asked my mother to cook fish only after my sister recovered. And I had never had a lunch or dinner without a non-vegetarian dish but I soon found that I was losing appetite for my once favourite food items.
It was a strange sight to watch the family enjoy a meagre meal consisting of dal, chawal and vegetables, which were mostly boiled and prepared without any oil. We were the happiest lot then. And it seemed as if our cheerfulness was rubbing on her. She too started taking interest in her meals. The joyful banter around the dining table returned and everything was same expect the food. We also started eating the same simple meals that the doctor had suggested for my sister. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Slowly, she regained her health and was allowed by the doctor to eat normal food.
It was a tough time. But it made us realise one thing—a family who eats together not only stays together but heals together as well!
—R K Kashyap