My Comfort Food

Sunita Giri 9:55 PM |


 “Oh, lord they are hungry again”  

“They just had their meal, what makes them hungry like this ?”

“These children never drank their mother’s milk so, their hunger is never going to be quenche properly.” As a growing up child in Bal Mandir these are the lines, I accustomed  hearing with.   

As for that last line, which stamped in my mind forever, I clearly remember, Shova didi said it. Is her conclusion right ? She would have known the real truth behind the ever hungry growing children, if only; she would have raised her own growing children and then watch behave her teenage children. Sadly, she died when her children were so young. In fact, she had died with excessive bleeding, when she was giving birth to her second child.

I really don't know these are the  common lines every children who grew up or are growing up in children homes has to hear due to lack of food to feed them. But, Bal Mandir never faced lack of food to feed us. Even if, we were hungry like larva, then there was country like America to feed us.  

I am sure, it was American agency, which used to send us multigrain roasted flour, powder milk and animal fat for our daily consumptions. As a teenager, I have read the twelve language translations saying they’re for not to be sold in market, for about hundreds times times in those packets, as these products came via shipping. The flour and milk powder came in about 25 or 30 kg tetra packs and fat came in 5 and 10 kg tin can.  

However, my mind todays goes completely blank, even trying to remember what is the name of that company, which used to send us those nutritious food. In fact, it was a part of nutritious food division, which distributed those supplies to Bal Mandir across the nations as well as to some school. Because the school I attended, as a child until 7th grade, was also the one of the school, which used to get the flour. Do they used to get fat and milk also ? but I have no recollection whatsoever of this now. This is very strange, we do so many things for years and eat and repeat things so many times in life during our childhood, yet, when trying to remember those things; only make us go blank. But I remember so clearly is the ‘puwa’ [is a snacks for day time], they used to make was so dry than what they used to make in Bal Mandir, yet for a change, we did like that different taste. No, we never used to get a chance to eat in both place the same meal.

Bal Mandir provided four times a day meal. First meal started at 7:00 in the morning. Its pudding 365 days, only nannies changed, everyday to give us a new taste every day. It was served with milk for children and tea for preteens and teenagers. At around 9:00 we used to have our morning meal before school. Dal, bhat and tarkari, meat was once in every Saturday without fail and then at 1:00 we used to have our day snacks, our last meal of the day started at five again dal, bhat and tarkari.

The food seem to be alright, or to some, it sure sounds more than okay. But, we were hungry like larva and needed food in between snacks and late afternoon meal. There were no provision for pocket money to meet that need, but who needed it ?

I do not exactly remember, steading those roasted flours, milk or sugars but all these were available in plenty to feed our hunger. But the truth is without stealing, we would not have had it easily also.  We used to eat that roasted multigrain freshly grounded flour, dry, just like that or sometimes with pinch of sugar  and occasionally putting it on tea  and making it easy puding like to have it as instant food. It was a roasted multigrain flour of five cereals [ maize, soybean, wheat, chick peas and perhaps the last one was black eyed bean]. It was somewhat instant food, like our noodles now a days, which can be eaten raw and easy made. I still know lots of my grown ups friends, who grew up eating it, want to buy it and then have it; purely because of its taste and it being so healthy food also. I doubt that a rich or the richest family here in Nepal, could afford that quality food for their growing child even today.

But, when I grew up bit, I have moved up to have powder milk, sugar and fat as a comfort food. I used to mix all three ingredients  properly and then used to eat it, just like that. No wonder, as a teenager I was a fat girl; I don't think I came under the bracket of obese child, but I do remember vividly  a friend of mine saying to me that, “ you don't walk, you just roll.”

One of the easy way to manage those comfort food was, to be friendly with room didis, who were also in charge of the days snacks once in every week. Help them in their work in the kitchen and outside the kitchen. Oh, yes there was other way also to get it, sometimes wait for the right moment to steal it either from kitchen or from main store. But, because I needed three things [ powder milk, sugar and fat] so stealing was definitely not the option so getting cozy with didis seemed to be an easier option for me.

‘Du’ my childhood friends was very hardworking and helpful to all nannies and could give her hand to help them anyway and time they needed; so my closeness with her and she being helpful to all gave me more opportunity to have my comfort food as much as I wanted. I do not remember, particularly that I was close with any nannies, but because it did not cost any of them nor it costed Bal Mandir to buy those foodstuffs, so maybe nannies or storekeepers were not that strict to control the quota. Therefore, they let us have it, whenever we asked for it.

Yeah, I do not eat it now but this still falls on my all time favourite comfort food, do I really have to grow ever to have my all time comfort food ? Have a bowl of it; and then you know, what I am talking about. If you have not eaten it yet, then you have not lived your life either.

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