Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I Do Not Like Milk; Do You Have Greek Yogurt?


Education is a must for any child. Whether it is a tiger-mom from China or the mom with a stick from India, we stress education.  

When children are growing up, they need two activities, one to keep your brain calm-something that you enjoy: music, dance, art and another one should be for the body-a physical exercise. 

Find time to do both, a period of twenty minutes if more time is not permitted to do each. The release of endorphin in the brain after a walk, a jog or a game of tennis will keep the brain fresh. A quiet activity will also rest your brain.


I Do Not  Like Milk; Do You Have Greek Yogurt?

A gentle aroma of Jasmine tickled Sagar’s nose and he jumped off his bed, “What? It’s already six ’o clock? I better get moving.”
“Move It” was Sagar’s motto: jumping, walking, jogging, biking were his game.
After a wash, he changed into his school uniform and brushed his black hair. He picked up a six-inch-thick cushion from a chair, Grampa’s car keys from his desk, and a backpack from the floor. He stepped into his shoes and tied the laces.
Tossing the cushion on the driver’s seat, and the backpack on the passenger seat, Sagar jumped into the small two-door car.
Sagar started the car and soon it raced and rattled on the dusty pebbled back roads. Sagar honked; a startled herd of cows scattered along the sides of the narrow road.
In five minutes, he parked the car. He heard the whirring sounds of a helicopter. He jumped over an iron fence and entered an open field.
The helicopter landed on a cement slab, surrounded by long sugarcane stalks.
Unperturbed, a pair of oxen grazed nearby.
The metal door of the helicopter squeaked open. A pilot stepped out, removed her aviator sunglasses and extended a hand, “Hello, young man, I’m Michelle.”
Sameer brought two hands together in an Indian greeting, namaste and offered his hand, “Sameer, Sir, uh, Ma’am.”
She said, “Sameer, I am sorry that your school had so much destruction. I brought something for children in your school.”
“Thank you.” Sameer stretched his neck to see what she had brought.
From the helicopter, she took out two bags packed with books.
Sagar held out his arms to help.
 “Easy, Sagar, the bags are heavy. I have some more bags that we can pick up later.”
even before her words spilled out of her mouth, Sagar dropped to the ground; the bags practically crushed his toes. In one swift move, he got up from the ground.
“Here, Sagar let me carry them.”
Sagar stepped back and murmured, "Okay."
She was strong.
They jumped over the fence and came to the parked car.                                          
“Ma’am, here’s our transport.”
“Wow, what a cute coupe! I’m afraid it may fall apart if I sit in it. And, Sagar, please call me Michelle.”
“Uh, Michelle? Uh, in India, out of respect we add a ‘ji’ at the end of a name. I could call you Michelleji.”
She crinkled her nose, “Michelleji sounds funny.”
“Well, then, Michelle it is.”
“Good. Tell me, Sagar, what does your name mean?”
“Yes, it means an ocean in Sanskrit.”
“Nice. An Ocean, your willingness to help and your friendliness would fill an ocean." 
Sagar smiled. 
She asked, "How far are we going?”
“Oh, 1.1 kilometer.”
“That’s under two miles, I’ll walk.”
“Please give me a minute.” Sagar pulled out a few mangled tubes from his backpack. He twisted and clicked the tubes together, and made it into a bicycle.
He sat on a small seat, one foot on a pedal and the other resting on the ground, he said, “I’m ready to move, let’s go.”
Michelle said, “Cool. My girls would love your blow n’ go backpack bike.”
“I can get you one.”
“Could you really? Thanks, I’d like that.”
Leaving the car at the helipad, they took off for Grammy’s home.
A bag in each hand, Michelle walked while Sagar rode his bike.
“You walk fast, Michelle.”
She laughed, “Only my husband can match my walk. It seems the tornado really created a havoc here, huh?”
“Yes, everywhere here also, like the US, tornado, hurricane, floods.”
“True, all those people who are hurt one way or the other, need help.”
“Oh, How?”
“We can collect things that are needed by the victims.”
“Sure- money, blankets, canned food, toys and such.”
“Hmmm. Here we are at Granny’s.”
Sagar leaned the bicycle against a wooden trellis; they took off their shoes and washed their hands.
Sagar asked, “Are fruits, aloo-parontha and milk okay for breakfast?”
“Uh, I don’t like milk; do you have Greek yogurt, and maybe a slice of ham?”
“Sorry, we are lacto-vegetarian; so paronthas-the whole wheat flat bread stuffed with potatoes, milk or homemade yogurt. Oh, there’s mango pickle and fresh fruits.”
“Blueberries and strawberries?”
Sameer blinked. Michelle was turning into his fussy little sister.
“Well, we have tropical fruits like coconut, papaya, mango, passion fruit, orange, lemon and guava---all from Grammy’s orchard.”
Michelle said, “Ooo, I love mangoes, but no pickles. I guess I should try new foods, yes?”
Sagar nodded.
“Okay, then aloo-parontha, mangoes and yogurt it is.”
They sat cross-legged on floor mats to eat breakfast.
Michelle asked if it was okay to drink water.
“Yep, after the tornado, Grammy boils our drinking water.”
They drank some water, and stepped out the door, put on their shoes. Michelle asked, “Which way?”
Sagar pointed in the direction of his school.
She grabbed the two bags and took off. Sagar sped after her on his bike.
At the school entrance, Michelle put the bags down and shook hands with the principal. A girl welcomed Michelle with a garland of marigolds and a boy gave her a bouquet of roses.
The delighted Principal thanked her for the new books and led her to a library that was in shambles. They talked about the devastation brought on by natural disasters.
A student came in and whispered to Sagar, he turned towards Michelle; but she had walked off to see the rest of the school.
Sagar ran after her, “Michelle, a call from your husband, President Obama! Michelle, Michelle…”
“Sagar, wake up son, Sagar?”
Sagar opened his eyes. “Uh, weird, I mixed up Oklahoma city, India and tornadoes.”
“It was a gigantic tornado, son.”
 “When we return to home, I want to collect canned food and clothes for the tornado victims.”
“I am sure a much needed help of food and clothes will be appreciated; however, today is your special day. Happy 7th Birthday, Sagar!”
Sagar breathed deep, “Thanks. Mmm…yummy blueberry pancakes; my favorite.”
Mom asked, “Who’s Michelle, a friend from school?”
Sagar smiled, “Michelle? Yeah, she’s a friend.”  

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

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