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The Remedy

Ruchi was sad when she got up in the morning that day. She had to go to school again! It wasn’t as if she did not like school, she did. Manisha, Jyotika and Neha were her best friends. The teachers were all very nice and they liked her because she was good at her studies. The only dark cloud in the horizon that spoiled everything was a naughty boy named Abhay. Ruchi felt angry whenever she thought of him! Apparently his father was one of the board members of the school so the teachers could not scold him or anything! Not that he did any terrible harm but he was exceptionally greedy. Every day at lunch he would come up to them and ask, “What did you get for lunch today? Better give it to me or I will not be responsible for the consequences!”

If the food was to his liking then of course there was no stopping him! If you had sandwiches, noodles or patties you were done! He would devour them in minutes! If you did not give it to him or tried to resist you would be in trouble. Manisha had brought a chicken sandwich the other day and had refused to give it him and lo and behold her pencil box disappeared along with all its contents! Actually Abhay had quite a vast following within the class. A horde of other naughty boys! When Abhay got the food they got the pickings – so they were immensely devoted to him! They did all the dirty work for him in return for the tit bits. Stealing Manisha’s pencil box, spilling ink on Ramya’s desk, tearing Anupama’s bag, Saurav’s vanishing Maths book were all their doing.  Jyotika was so scared she brought chapathi and brinjal curry for lunch everyday! The naughty boys immensely disliked brinjal, bitter guard, lady fingers and pumpkins – so everyone in class brought those for lunch!

Yesterday Mama had gotten chicken patties for them and Mummy said that Ruchi and her elder sister Shuchi would get chicken patties for lunch today. Taking those for lunch meant it would obviously be eaten by Abhay! Ruchi kept thinking of how to avoid the inevitable and suddenly a plan struck her!

Mummy and daddy had already left for work. Shuchi went to a different school and her school bus came really early so she was gone too. It was just Ruchi and Maya Masi at home.  Ruchi saw Masi getting her lunch box ready and whispered to her, “Masi can you make me a sandwich with nothing but chili paste in it today? Use lots of chilies and make the paste really thick!”

Masi’s eyes almost popped out of her head, “What are you saying Ruchi! Are you ok?”

Ruchi insisted, “I am fine, but please masi, it’s just a matter of two pieces of bread!”

Maya masi looked scared, “Your mother will be very angry with me when she hears about it! She instructed me to give you the leftover chicken patties for lunch. I gave the same to Shuchi as well!”

“Ok, I will take the chicken patties but in a separate lunch box. That will be for me to eat. The chili sandwich is a present for someone else!”

Masi finally relented, “Ok, but please be careful. Don’t get into any kind of trouble and cause problems for me!”

 “Don’t worry Masi, I will be fine!”

At lunch time Ruchi took out the lunch box with the chili pepper sandwich. It looked really good with the soft white pieces of bread sandwiching the reddish chili paste!

 “What did you bring for lunch today?” Abhay was ready with his usual question!

            Ruchi made a sad face and said, “Sandwich!”

Abhay didn’t even bother to look what was inside the pieces of bread as he grabbed the sandwich and bit into it right away! One bite after he was screaming on top of his lungs, “O my god! Daddy, mummy! I am dying! Help! Someone save me…uuuh aaah!” With that he dropped everything and ran off!

Abhay did not come back to class after lunch break, nor did he come to school the day after! A couple of days later they heard that he had taken admission into some other school in the city.

Ruchi was terrified. She kept thinking that she would get a huge scolding from the teachers or the principal but nothing of that sort happened! The group of other naughty boys got disbanded without Abhay’s presence as a leader. Ruchi managed to scare them a lot by telling them, “Well, Abhay just got chili peppers, you might get anything – cockroaches, lizards, mice, pins, needles….!”

A long time later – An afternoon in the year 2010

“Why are you eating just an apple for lunch?” Professor Ruchismita Sinha of the Arizona State University asked her student.

“Oh, don’t ask me, Dr. Sinha! I have two greedy pigs as roommates! Whatever I cook at night is gone in the morning! They manage to eat everything during the night and I don’t feel like cooking again in the morning, hence the apple!”

“Oh, that’s a big problem indeed! But I think I might have a remedy…want to hear about it?”


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