The morning tiptoes in feeling its way into daylight.
I come alive, toes upward, to ice-sharp pecks of winter.
To silver sweeps of sunlight that burn off the smoky morning mist.
To the whiff of tangy oranges swaying on trees whose zesty scent I swallow even in my drowsiness.
To bird song mixed with congenial snores of Masti, my jitterbugging dog, and delicate notes of the flute on the radio.
I am abuzz with delight under my soft, supple coverlet, its comforting depths.
A surge of life runs through me.
My brain fires up.
My soul’s wick lights.
And oops my stomach babbles with hunger.
I say bring on a high voltage breakfast to match the sun now glowing red-ruby bold.
Today as I readied for school and got breakfast-curious to the table, I was in for a severe jolt.
I saw four bowls full to the brim with hodgepodge – lumpy, sticky, smelly and soggy.
My tongue dried out. Something seized up in my stomach. There was hullabaloo in it.
My happiness leaked and my spirits fell with a thud.
Why is Pa, who has taken charge, serving us puke?
He said it was oatmeal. His tone and eyebrows up meant to say breakfast bonanza.
Why can’t I devour puffy pooris, those jolly globes of tang so sigh-worthy?
I am nine going on ten, old enough to decide. I fuss. Manners are optional this knockout morning.
My elbows on the table and frown lines show petulance. My patience is tissue-thin. I have evil on my mind.
Pratik, my younger brother, pairs up with me.
He is resentment from head to foot and plays hell raiser by banging on his bowl.
With a fat drool bubble perched on his nose, food-fiend Masti kowtows in his best begging position. We both want to cuff and starch his ears.When I can cook, I will eat what I enjoy. I say so.
Father frowns at my hostility. His tone is curt and precise, his face shuts like a gate. I fear his quiet menace.
Ma, dressed in her clinic clothes (she is a doctor), pushes the bowls towards us.
Even the sun is in flames. Its gauzy gentleness on account of a drizzle at dawn is no more. It ripples with ruby-red anger.
We subdue our sulk and eat. It tastes of newspaper stuffed in wet shoes.
Much as we dislike the bilge, we now know rules are rules, however nonsensical. No excuses.
Oomna at 9
Oomna at 8
We see that growing up means eating yucky, congealing oatmeal and doing homework without fail.
As much as it means banging on drums and roller blading against the whoosh of winds.
The dare devilries we will try this evening.
For this cool cracking of the rules code, maybe we will get plumped up dessert after dinner, ice cream and jalebis?
Do you think so, too?