Vedant was tired to the bone and the heat was only adding fuel to the fire, both literally and figuratively. He stretched out and sighed after a long day of work. He had a sudden urge to finish off the tub of butterscotch ice-cream he had safely tucked deep into the freezer the previous night. When he opened the refrigerator, he was shocked to see his bonnet-donned mother, Lakshita sitting inside the shelves of the refrigerator! On one hand, she was holding her new, shiny, rose gold Samsung mobile and watching a dreadfully dramatic soap opera and on the other hand, she was chopping yam and elephant’s foot. Vedant hated yam and he dreaded eating elephant’s foot. Vedant spluttered, “M… om, www…what are you doing in here?” His mother was too engrossed in her T.V. serial to pay attention to him. He then yelped with horror and saw her put the sticky, chopped vegetables in the half-filled tub of butterscotch ice-cream.
Vedant patted her and said, “STOP!”
“Vedant! Good lord, what’s wrong?” Lakshita asked.
“Why are you sitting inside the fridge adding meat into the ice cream? I wanted to eat it but now I can’t!” He said angrily.
“I’m doing this so that something you eat can be healthy! Do you even know what all chemicals go into this junk you eat?! That’s why I’m trying to make it healthier by adding good food to it!” His mom said.
Vedant gaped at her with his mouth open.
“Close your mouth or a fly will go inside”, she said calmly.
Confused, he returned to the living room.
He sat there watching television, a packet of chips in one hand and remote in the other. He heard the 12 bongs of the clock in the dining room. He got up to have a last look at the ice-cream.
The ice-cream tub was intact with no sign of yam or elephant’s foot or even his mother.
But when he opened the lower door of the fridge for a water bottle, his heart came to his mouth. To his horror, Lakshita sat there, chopping bottle gourd and ridge gourd that he detested.
“Preparation for your birthday tomorrow”, she remarked, without looking at him.
Why was Vedant’s mother acting like this? He asked her, “What have you been eating since morning mummy?”. Vedant’s mom appeared to think very deeply for a minute and then said, “Well, first I had the aloo curry that Nani sent, and then…”
She was rudely interrupted just then by Vedant’s father who heard this and said, “Nani sent curry? Let me have some!” When he tasted a spoon of the curry, his eyes rolled in his head and his head was spinning. With a cry of, “Must have more healthy food!”, he also climbed into the fridge and started chomping on some asafoetida.
Vedant’s parents had gone nuts.
“What’s wrong with you guys?!” But all he got for a reply was an ardent yell of “VEGETABLES!”
Vedant got thinking and his wild imagination soared high.
Was Nani’s curry magical?
And then, he got a sudden brain wave –
Was that how parents made children madly love healthy food in a way that he clearly saw was so unhealthy??
He knew what he had to do…
It was his time to shine and protect the juvenile.
He was going to concoct a counter-potion for this barbaric magic curry!
Vedant’s parents shouted “VEGETABLES” anew and he groaned “Ughhhhhh!”
Vedant started working fingers to the bone to create a counter potion. He knew if his parents were craving for vegetables, then he should give them something which is exactly the opposite. First, he took a bowl and added ice-cream, pizza, burger, french fries and mixed it all up. Next, he had to think of a way to get his parents to eat it. So, he pretended to add some broccoli in the potion and then gave his parents a big spoonful of the potion each. His plan worked and his parents were back to normal, but there was one question bothering him – “Why was Nani doing this?”
Ready to unveil this horrifying mystery, Vedant headed for his Nani’s home, gad to leave his house which had now become a vegetable-mania.
His journey consisted of creamy butterscotch ice-creams (without veggies or elephant feet), cool sodas and more ice-creams.
Having reached his grandmother’s house by twilight, he felt an eerie presence around him. A little intimidated and spooked Vedant thought of heading back home, but curiosity bested all other feelings and he found himself marching towards the front door.
Cautiously creaking it open, he stepped inside, only to scream his guts out at the sight of his grandmother.
Vedant found his Nani making potion inside a giant pot with a huge spatula, stirring and stirring. His Nani did not notice him so he hid himself under the table looking at how she was making something giant green and blue potions, which she was adding to aloo curry she made in the morning. Nani’s cabinet was full of things he never saw before or even would try to name them. He calmly crawled under the table but he hit his head against it and she looked around. She thought it might be the cat but no! She came closer to him.
Vedant could hear every beat of his heart thumping. He held his breath as his Nani bent to check under the table, slowly, slowly…and she said, “Peekaboo, dear Vedant! It’s such a wonderful surprise to have you here! Come on out from under the table!”
Vedant was in utter shock. Nani was kind and cheerful – the Nani he knew – but her words didn’t match what she was doing. How could she remain so calm even after her secret potion-making hobby had been discovered? He couldn’t have been more confused. He needed answers – and he was ready to confront her.
“Nani? Can I ask you some questions?” Vedant said in a bold voice, but inside he was nervous.
“Why not? Go on!”
“Why…why are you making potions? And why did you send an irresistible aloo curry that made mummy almost put… Br… Broccoli in my leftover butter popcorn!!?”
Vedant needed answers. Even if they weren’t the answers to his math test.
“Oh! About that, your parents told me that you’ve been eating LOTS of junk food lately, so the aloo curry was supposed to be for you and…”, Nani ended her words with dead silence.
This got Vedant curious. And what? He thought and ended the silence by answering: “And what…?”.
“And this one was supposed to work!”
Vedant blinked as his grandmother threw her hands up and her wrinkled face contorted in exasperation.
“So, you’ve done this before?” he ventured, stomach churning at the prospect of his grandmother poisoning more families.
“For almost every family in the neighbourhood,” she admitted. “Most parents were in despair at their children’s unhealthy lifestyle, and so they approached me after hearing rumours of my magical curries that could make any child love vegetables. I don’t think they realised that the food was really magical.”
Vedant’s mouth had formed a perfect ‘o’ at his grandmother’s revelation.
It took him a minute to dissect this information. Suddenly his heart started speaking. Now he knew exactly how he should convince Nani. He said, “Nani, you got us completely wrong.” “Why my dear?” asked Nani.
“That is because everyone loves their Nani so much. In fact, I love you more than my parents. The care you show and the yummy food you cook is all it takes.” Nani started contemplating.
“Nani” he continued, “We don’t need magical aloo curry to start eating healthy. We need you to talk to us about how healthy food helps us and that’s all we need to control ourselves from eating any other junk.”
“Okay?” he asked, expecting an agreement.
But Nani did something unexpected; she shoved a spoonful of curry into her grandson’s mouth.
Then everything turned dark.
“Wake up!” whispered a voice.
“Amma?” Vedant said, recognizing Lakshita’s voice and scooting away. “I don’t want any vegetables, please, Amma. Nani-”
“Nani is no more,” Lakshita cried, choking up words.
The ride to the hospital was a blur. Vedant couldn’t think about anything except his disturbing dream of Nani.
“Vedant… here.” Renika had been the one to find Nani. “Your Nani wanted you to have this.”
Vedant stared down at the large pot of aloo curry.
Beyond the Box is the first platform in India to have conducted an Online Write-A-Thon which encourages collaborative story writing. In the month of July 2022, 72 participants created history by being a part of Season 2 of this exciting event. They were divided into 5 groups and each participant in the group contributed to the ongoing story in 100 words approximately. The 14 writers of Group 3 (Kids) who came up with this story are: (Names mentioned in the sequence allotted to them for the Write-A-Thon. A line has been used in the story to indicate change in the writer. This group won the title of ‘Fastest Finishers’)
|Sequence Number||Group 3|