Content Warning:
The content in the following piece entails the current pandemic and general despair. Proceeding with due discretion is advised.

In an Italian premium restaurant, the head chef came out for a round. As people bowed and smiled looking at his white chef cap, some teenagers ran to take his autograph. It must be the cooking series on Netflix behind all that fan following! He had cooked the ‘Dish of the Day’– the delicious, cheesy Lasagna. It had become the signature dish of not just the chef, but of the restaurant! The guests on all tables were thrilled with the announcement that the Lasagna was ‘on the house’ that day as it was the restaurant’s second anniversary. However, the chef added, “Please do not waste what you take in your plate since that is the rule here.”

As fine crockery walked out of the kitchen, the aroma of burnt garlic and herbs tantalised the senses of awaiting souls. Their mouths watered with the imagery of this dish with bell peppers, onions, tomato puree and baked cheese, thanks to his viral YouTube videos on the same! Nobody said anything as the boiled pasta hiding under the bed of veggies and chicken entered their restless mouths. I have heard elders say when one enjoys food, he forgets to talk.

Just as the hungry crowd relished their first bite of Lasagne, the chef hurriedly came and announced, “Due to an accident in the kitchen, a bulb broke just above the cooking station. Although all broken glass pieces have been recovered, it seemed a chunk was missing from the jigsaw of the broken bulb. There might be this glass piece in the Lasagne served. As it had no colour, it might get merged in the dish. I am deeply sorry.”

The flavour of the Lasagne was as good as expected. The presentation of the dish was of course great. However, something was missing. The fun of eating had gone. Everyone was forcefully swallowing one bite after the other without paying attention to the taste while eating. The more they became aware, there was no conversation, no gossip among them. All fell quiet. Before the announcement, it was fun to be together. Now even though they were together, one by one, they fell into a nutshell. Everyone ate until the end. Even the last bite was taken carefully.

After completing the meal, everyone let out a sigh of relief for not getting the glass piece. Just then, someone noticed that no one had got the broken glass! On asking the chef he said, ‘I had collected most of the broken pieces. However, I wanted to warn you if there was one left by mistake. Just a minute back I saw the missing piece under the baking table. It had slid under it seems.”

The guests started looking at each other. There was no discussion about the very delicious Lasagne at all. They couldn’t figure out whether to be happy or sad. It was a ‘sad happy’ feeling. Everyone was exhausted after the meal because the ease of eating had gone.

Now, pause and think….

Due to this pandemic wave in India, our condition has become like the broken glass in the dish. It is not possible to say who will get it. The ease of living is gone. Even the helping hand which comes forward, is doubted. The milkman, vegetable vendor, grocer, neighbour, senior citizen, young boy — all are looked at as dangers to us, to our family.

Even while receiving an Amazon courier or Big basket order with basic necessities of life, we are worrying — what if the unwanted comes along with it… this is how we are existing rather than living our lives. We are taking each breath with the fear of losing it. In pre-COVID times, when one sneezed, we said, ‘God bless you’ But now, we look for a direction to run away from such a person no matter what caused that sneeze.

No one knows how many days this will continue… we can only hope.

But there is good news!

Beyond fear stays victory

And

Hope has many answers with her.

 

Let’s cultivate hobbies.

Let’s do more of what makes you happy

Worry less

And

Be kind

– Sara Maheshwari, Amity International School, Noida

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