Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Fast for a cause

                                                                                                                  23 Jan 09

Well, you may argue that a fast is always voluntary but in India, people fast, not because they genuinely want to but for the sake of practice, convention or to please some god/goddess for their sly and selfish motive. A girl (majority wins!) on fast is no less than a mine of gloom for she is never happy about the fact that she is on fast. When asked why she is not having the Almond fudge while rest of her friends are, she will invariably reply in the gravest possible way that, “yar, I’m on fast” (don’t get startled if she pouts. On few occasions, tears may accompany the reply as well!). Few others are smart souls and they have found loopholes in the system. I have seen people binging frivolously while on some ‘religious fast’ for they are only prohibited to consume cereal, rest everything they can relish with delight.
And due to this very reason, I have always considered fast like a ‘fast’ girl; someone, with whom you should always keep ‘safe’ distance. (the specifications of ‘safe’ varies!)

But today, on getting up ‘accidentally’ early in the morning and finding nothing to do with the enormous amount of ‘extra’ time that I suddenly got, I decided to go to the gym. Not only can I exercise there but catch some glimpses of TV as well. This might sound to you as exaggeration but those glimpses for me are as fortuitous as a sight of a ‘female’ (not necessarily human!!) in a Boys Hostel.
But today those glimpses were saying a different story. The News channel was showing the videos of the aftermaths of Haiti Earthquake at Port-au-prince.
The videos were startling to say the least; there is an utter chaos in Haiti with the return of ‘the jungle rule’ with a bang. The few ‘stray lions’ were looting the relief material meant to be distributed among everyone. People were stabbing each other, well, not exactly with knife but with very pointed and thick sticks. I saw two men carrying a gunny bag of wheat which they had pilfered from the relief material. Thefts and loots have risen so much that relatively rich citizens of Haiti have opted to leave the island.

I realized how precious food has become suddenly; more precious than a human’s life. And here at home, we have so much to eat. (When I say home, I didn’t mean India because in that case, we are the one who ‘proudly’ boast of millions who go to bed, well not exactly bed, without food. India is the home to the largest population of malnutrition children and hunger is still a graver cause of death than many dreaded disease.)

However, the fact that I have always got the kind of food that satisfies not only my ‘fastidious’ taste buds but my ‘progressive’ appetite as well from the day I started eating till this date without any break or holiday (gazetted or restricted), I might have taken food for granted and hence can’t appreciate the fact that I am among those fortunate ones who can still enjoy other pleasures of life rather than thinking about the whereabouts of their next meal.

But to realize the value of food and to empathize with the Quake survivors of Haiti, I decided not to take food for the remaining part of the day, lunch and dinner to be precise. Well that’s because I couldn’t have relinquished the breakfast. I had milk and roasted grams already with me and not taking them would be like demeaning the food which was contrary to my purpose.

It’s late in the night when I am writing it down and till now it’s going pretty fine apart from occasional hunger pangs, abdominal twinges, loud burps with expulsion of enormous gas generated due to under-utilization of alimentary canal, weird sounds orchestrated by stomach muscles which resemble the typical sound of the famous game of Mario when he gains the size! (Well, if u can’t recall, play Mario once again!) and profuse salivation whenever I happen to see (or even hear) Chaat-papdi, pizza, popcorns or Parle G. A really tough and equally ironical situation arose when I visited the Gurdwara at Sector 18, Noida. After offering my prayers I was sitting inside the gurdwara along with other people to absorb some calmness of the place. But within few seconds, I was hypnotized by an intoxicating aroma of the halwa which is distributed there as Prasad. It was so hallucinating that it changed my thought process within no time. Now I was thinking that I should take the ‘prasad’ for it will bring all the blessings of ‘Vaheguru’. Ironically, in my prayers I asked for the strength to hold on to my debut fast. To make a bad situation worse, they started distributing the Prasad (generally you yourself have to go and ask for it). Fortunately I got out of the trance in time, bowed once again and made a quick exit while asking for forgiveness for not accepting the Prasad. Well, it’s still a debatable topic whether I should have accepted the Prasad or not but I did what I felt right at that moment. Rest of the journey was easy although I had to lie to my mom that I won’t take the dinner as I have already had Chinese at some fancy restaurant in CP with some friends. I presumed that she wouldn’t probably understand the reason of my fast if I tell her the truth. Nevertheless, she could smell something fishy and asked me at around 10 that whether I would like to eat. You can’t simply dodge your mother.

I know it perfectly that my fast would not make any substantial difference in the life of any Haitian nor will it replenish the acute shortage of food in that quake hit island. It was merely a symbolic gesture to tell the Haiti people that in these arduous days, you are not alone; we can understand your sufferings and will always be there to help you, if not physically then emotionally.

Thanks for giving it a read and I would love to read about your own ways to convey your message to Haitians.

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