She liked pink and green. He preferred greys and browns. Joint shopping trips got on her nerves, but he enjoyed her company. When she wanted to buy him a gift, her eyes hurt looking at the dull colours. He bought her pinks and greens with a smile. Different tastes were alright in his rule book – as long as he could get what he wanted at the dining table. Thankfully, they both liked the same food and drink.
Her taste buds didn’t welcome chocolate these days. Fruity desserts made them happiest. Greedy bites of lemon tart were another new habit. “But he’s made chocolate cake today. You know you want it,” said her mother. Suddenly, the thought of his weak hands making her childhood favourite filled her mind. She was craving chocolate again.
The smell of hot chocolate travelled through the kitchen. Her little hands were clad in fuzzy old gloves. The French toast sat untouched on the table. “Daddy, where’s my hot chocolate?” He laughed and asked her to be patient. “But I’m hungry,” she complained. “Eat your eggs,” she was told. The canine child sitting by her chair helped her finish them.
“Can we go to the pizza place today?” His eyes were hopeful. They held hands and walked towards the mall. “Mommy, why is that old man sleeping on the road?” The mother frowned. She felt depressed even explaining it. “Because he lives here, child.” The eyes lost their hope. He thought it was a lie. “Mommy, where is his kitchen?” She told him that he had no kitchen. His chin was determined. “Let’s buy him a pizza.”
He meowed at the door. It was just 6am but she was wide awake. “I’m coming. I’m coming,” she yelled to him. Once the door was opened, he cried past her and seated himself on the dining table. “Good morning, child,” she yawned to him. But the child kept on crying, or rather, meowing. He was hungry after all night outside with his girlfriends and male enemies. “Stop crying,” she pleaded. He did stop. As soon as the bowl of fish was placed in front of him.
The feline child was sleepy. He had been napping all morning and all afternoon. His paws were in the air, his belly proud and chubby. When evening beckoned, they tried to wake him up with the sinful odour of fish. He didn’t even sniff. They brought milk under his nose. He didn’t bat an eyelid. As he snored away to glory, everybody wondered if he would ever wake up and go outside for his long stroll. Then the chicken broth woke him up.
The three friends had a competition. Who could do the most skips without stopping? Arun could do 40 and Debolina skipped 35 times before the rope got stuck under her foot. Giri had been able to skip only 10 times before huffing and puffing to a stop.
“Giri! You are not able to skip or jump high these days. What is wrong?” His friends were worried. Mummy was outside. She watched them. “Giri has been eating too many sweets. His health is suffering,” she thought.
Giri knew what was wrong. He knew that he was having too much cake. In fact, he was eating too much of anything that he made in the kitchen. Last week, he had made three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Papa was busy in the other room, so Giri ate his sandwich too.
That evening, Mummy said, “Giri, you are not able to run and play like before. You need to exercise and eat healthier meals.” “From tomorrow, you will not make any food or cake again since you eat everybody’s share.”
Giri started crying. But Mummy was right. He could feel that his t-shirt was tighter than before. He had never stopped at just 10 skips. The other day in school, he had stopped chasing Arun because he could not breathe properly. Giri was in trouble.
The next few days, Giri listened to his mother. He ate whatever she cooked for him. But he missed cakes, sandwiches and pizza. So he went for a walk. “I’ve been good for four days. Now I can give myself a treat,” he decided.
There was a small shop right outside the gate. It sold pastries and pizza. There were sweet biscuits too. Giri’s parents visited the shop only when guests came without warning. So Giri knew that the pizza at Sweet Jar tasted almost as good as his own. He knew that the pastries were too sweet but better than having no pastry at all. So, Giri went in and bought a pastry and a pizza with his pocket money. He stood inside the shop and ate his treats, hoping that nobody would tell his parents about his visit.
When Giri reached home, nobody knew. He was happy.
That Sunday, Debolina said she would come visit with her new books. Giri could not bake or make anything for her this time. “Mummy, can you make something nice for her?” Mummy said that she would make lunch for them. “No dessert?” Giri asked, disappointed. Mummy said they could have mangoes.
Just before Debolina came, Giri said that he would take a walk. “Walking is good exercise,” said his father. Giri went outside the gate again. He had just enough money to buy two pastries for his friend. “Maybe I could have one myself…” Giri wondered. “Mummy will be angry,” he thought. He bought two pastries. One was put in a box. The other one he ate. As he was finishing his pastry, Debolina passed by the store. She saw him and looked shocked. “Giri! You just ate something sweet. Aunty will be so angry.” Giri felt bad. He followed Debolina home.
As his mother opened the door for them, he blurted out, “I ate a pastry at the Sweet Jar.” He expected his parents to scold him, but they laughed. “One pastry is nothing to feel bad about, Giri.” We only wanted you to be careful about your health.” Debolina giggled. “Yes. Eat cake but not the whole cake,” she added. Now Giri laughed too. Somehow, eating that one pastry had made him feel much better than those times when he had eaten the whole cake or too many sandwiches.
That day, Debolina, Giri and his mother baked a cake. Everybody had a piece.
First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)