I was ten back then when I found out about the pickle Jar. Was it a boon or a curse?
It was a long way back home, dwarfed by the immense power of destiny, covered in a muddied ragged shirt. I contemplate on my journey so far. The other side of the hill was longing for my return. Two hills away is where I come from, my small village and my home, a small hut built of mud and sand, the one that often shook when the monsoon winds blew. A spare key to the latch was hidden in the creeks of the southern wall over which wild flowers grew. The light hardly made its rays persistent in that dark space inside. It was always foggy and damp but warm. Warm because in it was love. My mother’s love who would often be found preparing a meal or cleaning that tiny space off the dust.
Draped in a cotton saree and her nose ring shining through the darkness, we would find serenity in her arms. I was ten back then. When her light brown eyes brimmed of tears when she heard me run.
“I want to go” I had thundered that night. Father was still in his deepest sleep, that was when his snores would deafen our ears.
“You are just a kid, you do not the know the world outside” She smiled at first, thinking it as a childhood rant.
I knew that smile. That was never going to change. It would be foolish of me to convince her. Naren uncle had promised a better life, better home, better food in the city. I would return when I would have got everything. Being the oldest amongst the four children. I decided to run.
Back then I thought I was brave and determined.
It was a five-day journey on foot and 2 days on the vehicle. Bandra, the city, a home awaiting my arrival. So that night, I packed my bags with curried potatoes, dry rotis and left over ragi ball that was preserved for the next day’s morning ragi malt. Now for that treasure that promised me riches. I steadily walked through the small place, hopping around the sleepy legs of my siblings. My mother turned in her sleep while my father’s snore had reached the cow in the backyard. everything was in place. I climbed the walls of the hut, it was a bricky and an easy climb, at the end of the rack above was an earthen pot, the big one that would fill water for the house for two days. I clenched my teeth and drew it near me. It was heavy and bottom of which creak-traced the muddied rack above.
There you go, I heaved as I pulled it closer to me. tied a thread around the nook and slowly left it down to the floor. Is it really the pickle, a tiny voice in my mind screamed. My parents would always talk about the pickle they stored on the rack above. The one that promised us a better life. We never tasted the pickle though.
It was the money. I knew it for father always used to climb up with pennies jingling in his pocket and climbed down empty except making a grinning face of how tasty the pickle was.
And one night I heard them talk about the money saved in the pickle jar and how it would help us all in the future. The future where I would be married off and my sisters to a well settled family. The importance of it faded as the vision of the tall buildings and luxury cars raced in my eyes. I wanted them all.
Thirteen years later, I am coming back home, to where I belong. To the place that taught me to smile and to trust. The place that was showered with blessings of a smile that guarded our family. It has been a long time indeed.
To be continued…