Thursday, April 10, 2014

Then and Now

For many years, when my sister was studying at NIFT and then working in Delhi, I was the only child at home, pampered and pandered to.

My grandfather would fast on certain days – ingest only fruit during the day and break the fast with something other than rice, something like a light meal of upma or avvalakki. All of it came under the name ‘phaLahara’. (Literally it means a fruit diet but loosely the word was used to indicate the whole day’s regimen.) I thought it made a nice change and announced to my parents that I was going to do this too. Oh, not fast, not that! But on Saturdays, I would not eat the regular rice-curry-sambhar-rasam-curd dinner. I would have ‘phaLahara’ too – but a treat of some sort. A burger or pizza from the local fast food outlet, or Chinese or Italian or pav bhaji... something exotic.

The burden of arranging this meal invariably fell to my dad. Early evening he would ask me what I wanted, I would enjoyably go over my options and put them down in a list, and he would set out to buy my dinner, or at least the ingredients. And my mother – who usually ruled us with a fairly tight hand – undersigned this arrangement. I remember Shweta clucking her tongue at this self-indulgence, and astonished at the fact that the parents were LETTING me do this, and helping me do it. But they did for years – amused and indulgent of my tweak of an old custom.

I remember this today, this Ekadasi day. Once I admitted to myself a few years ago that I was indeed on the spiritual path, there have been so many lifestyle changes. Some deliberate choices, some that I arrived at without quite knowing how. Some dictated by the energy system, some simply because they made sense. Among those changes is fasting on Ekadasi. I didn’t think I could do it, but given my disordered digestive system, it came to be a no-brainer. After years of indulging the stomach, I have come to the pleasure of resting it.