Vivaan missed his mother’s home cooked food and more so because he was now a food delivery boy in a metropolis
By Bhumika R
A plastic covered handset vibrated on the narrow wooden shelf. Vivaan knew it was another food delivery assignment. The city always had hungry people ordering food. Sometimes food was ordered simply to feel good. Most of the food delivery orders that Vivaan had received in the last one week had been placed by homesick youngsters. Youngsters who visualised home by jogging their memories and trying to relive the taste of dishes their mothers and grandmothers cooked at home. Memories of wearied and overworked looks on their mothers and grandmothers faces faded while they remembered the flavours and aroma of their favourite home cooked dish.
It was a little over a year since Vivaan had decided to relocate to Delhi. He had gotten used to his initial feeling of loneliness. Delivering food to young homesick folks, he missed the simple roti and aloo sabzi which his mother cooked for him.
Initially, it had been hard for him. Gradually he pretended to get used to his loneliness and tolerating his own self. He had begun getting used to his strange thoughts, idiosyncrasies and to his own mind which clamoured for attention at times.
He remembered the Gol Gappe which he had eaten as a child, and also the salt and chilli powder smeared pieces of raw mango, sliced into thin pieces and sold by a push cart vendor, near his school. He was reminded now of the message that had vibrated on his phone screen a while ago. Vivaan now had 25 minutes left before he delivered the biryani to a flat which was five kilometers away from his cramped room on the terrace of a three storied building. He changed into a bright coloured T-shirt with his company’s logo and name neatly printed on it.
His mother had cooked biryani the last time he had visited home. He tried hard to remember the taste and its smell. It seemed blurry.
He now had 23 minutes before he delivered the food to the customer. The aluminum foil packet within which biryani was wrapped could not arrest its aroma. Did his mother’s preparation smell better? He tried hard remembering the taste and aroma.
It was strange how his mind refused to relive the smell and flavour of the biryani his mom had cooked for him barely three months ago. He now had barely 17 minutes to deliver the food. He suddenly missed home. He missed the biryani he had eaten barely three months ago. He missed his mother. He thought the June heat was making him delirious and gulped some water. He saw his phone and knew he either had to deliver the food packet in 10 minutes or be penalised for delaying delivery.
It would not perhaps be noticed, he thought, if he ate a tiny morsel of the biryani. Maybe it would jog his memory and he could then remember how the biryani which his mother cooked for him tasted. With barely nine minutes to delivery, he quickly unwound the elastic rubber band tied around the neck of the biryani packet, started his bike with one hand and quickly ate through his helmet. He wound the rubber band and pushed it back into the bag. He now had seven minutes before he delivered the packet of hot biryani whose rubber band was wound-unwound-wound, to a customer.
He still could not understand whether it tasted like the one his mother had cooked for him last time. He remembered that there was a short cut through some narrow alleys through which he could reach the destination on time.… after making adjustments for a couple of mins. If need be, he could always pretend to ask for directions, which would give him a slight breather too! Still, he made it. The food was still neatly wound with an elastic rubber band and relatively hot. Vivaan rang the bell and delivered the food packet to a certain Ms Ahuja.
Running down the stairs, he again tried remembering the taste of biryani that his mother had cooked for him. His mind seemed to be growing bored of its thoughts that day. Perhaps the June heat was to blame.
His phone vibrated again and he knew he had another half an hour to deliver a food packet somewhere.
Also read: A Potful of Good Food Delivered Home
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A Ph.D from JNU, New Delhi, Bhumika P. taught English in Surana College, Bangalore and IIT Jammu. She has also contributed articles to Cafe DissensusEveryday, The Hindu and Deccan Herald. She loves to write poetry and short fiction in English and some of her poems have been published in the Visual Verse, platocavesonline; her short story ‘Nameless’ has been published in the borderlessjournal. Bhumika is currently an assistant professor in the school of humanities at Shiv Nadar University, Bangalore.