It Is Dinner Time.

My mother presiding over dinner.
I recall those days
when the six of us were in school

The eight seater table,
mother and father
at farther ends,
three of us on one side
the remaining three on the other.

Dinner was bereft of chatter and laughter.
Could hear only mama’s voice.

Mother, strict as ever,
saw to the quantity we all ate,
instructed the cook to keep vegetables liberally.
No way we could escape her.
She saw to it
we left nothing on the plate
She allowed us to leave only curry leaves.

Father used to watch all of us
with a mischievous grin.
Knew not why he smiled
at that time.

All of us gulped the food
whether we liked it or not.
One of us would regurgitate
“Nothing doing” she would shout.
Dinners were not pleasant
as they had to be.

To our surprise, she never ate with us.
We dared not ask her, Why?

She had her own time.

Once I was a little late,
I had to join her for dinner.

She was choosy.
The cook served her with attention.
Kept the barest minimum. Said the
curries were insipid and needed salt

She took just a mouth full.
Left the rest on the banana leaf.
(Till her last, she never partook from the plate.)
Chided the cook for cooking so bad.
Folded the leaf- easy to conceal the leftovers.

I sat looking at her, how long
I do not know?

I was able to relate to father’s grin.

That day I ate as I wished.