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My Face Is My Fortune… (A short Story).

” My Face Is My Fortune …” A Short Story

 

It looked as if the whole house had gone to sleep.

The meal had been heavy, as it was Sunday and far too many items on the dining table. Jyothi had taken extra care and dished out some new recipes. The children loved the fare.

Janaki  had helped her as usual, the only girl in the house who loved cooking. In fact, she was passionate about cooking. It was she who had cooked that special palak dish with those mouth watering fried paneer cubes and plenty of coriander leaves, which were of course not mentioned in the ingredients. She loved  the colour and smell of coriander leaves and had them strewn in all the dishes. He mother Jyothi’s only worry was,

“What will this girl do, if she gets a husband who hates coriander leaves?” Anyway, Janaki had just joined college and wedding was a far away matter.

Manju was in the Medical College and pursuing the final year. Even before graduating as a Doctor, she had started suggesting   medicines for the family’s small ailments. Her brother Sanjay had nicknamed her as “Quack.”  Of course, all in fun.

With grandmother Kamakshi still sticking on to her herbal  medicines and good old home remedies , most of Manju’s prescriptions were consigned to the dustbin. Nevertheless, she considered herself a young Doctor in the making.

Charu, the pet daughter was just in her tenth; a bit roly-poly. Yet to  become figure- conscious and eating away all the sweets, oodles of butter and ghee with a vengeance. As if all the goodies will vanish  from the face of the earth very soon and she had to have them as quickly as possible  while they lasted.

Sanjay who had come down from Delhi, where he was pursuing Architecture and would break into our National language once in a while- showing off his prowess in Hindi-  as Manju would say very often-  was in his room literally building a castle in the air. He had been asked to return from his holidays, with a model of a modern Castle on which he was working.  Papa Sambandan  was away at the office on some conference and had left early after having a quick breakfast of cornflakes.

“Ugh!! God knows how you eat this hay ,” his mother Kamakshi would mutter.

“Jyothi, why don’t you serve him Iddlis or dosa.” She would ask her daughter-in-law.

No .He wanted a “healthy Breakfast “  every day and cereals were the most “protein filled “ breakfast item. Iddlis and dosas made one fat, according to him. His daughter Manju’s pleas that even in German hospitals, iddlis were served to the patients fell on his deaf ears,  which  otherwise were functioning quite normally.

The commotion started, when Janaki entered the kitchen at three in the afternoon to prepare tea for all. That  chore  was assigned to her on Sundays and  on vacations. She loved  making tea. She was pounding fresh ginger with a song on her lips.

Jyothi was the first to see them.

The  marks.

Yes, the green and brown spots on her daughter’s left cheek and neck. She got  panicky and called out.

Hey  Manju, come here quick.”

Manju who was reading a book on the Robotic Surgery , left the book on her table and came hurrying by.

“ What is it Ma, ?” She asked with concern as her mother never lost her cool. Something really serious must have cropped up to disturb her sangfroid.

“See Janu’s face. There are some greenish brown  spots. They are on her neck too.”

Janu heard her mother and as reflex action, her right hand went to her face and Manju caught it just in time.

“Phew ! Don’t touch it. Let me see.”

Manju stared at the spots for a while..

“Hmmm…greenish brown spots.  Hyperpigmentation. Could perhaps be intestinal bacteria Helicobacter pylori.I suppose you should use …”

“ No, Manju, “ Jyothi cut her short.

“It’s on the face. I will not take any risk. What if she is allergic to the cream you suggest?”

Manu sighed and said,  “ Amma. This will go away. It looks very superficial.”

“ No. Let us go and see Dr Rajesh. He  is a Skin Specialist and would know what to administer.” By then Charu and Sanjay had come too.

“ What is it Janu? “ Sanjay, peered into her face and blew a whistle.

“ Phew ! That looks pretty serious. On the face too. May be the palak did not agree?”

“ But I have been having paalak quite often.” Janu wailed. “Oh!! Why should this happen to me.”

Kamakshi came walikg with the help of a stick. She was bent into almost two. Obviously, as she was aging.  This ‘bending into two ‘ ran in the family.

Charu explained everything loud to her, as she was a bit hard of hearing.

“ I have told you hundred times not to be using all those English Creams. You never listen. All you need is some turmeric everyday on your face and no blemishes would come.” Kamakshi boated of a clear complexion even at this age. She had a glowing skin.

“But  Grandma , they are all Ayurvedic creams,” argued Janaki.

Manju was a pro allopath Doctor with a disdain for Ayurvedic products.  “Hmm, must have been the presence of extra arsenic in it.”

She said.

“ But Manju, the contents do not specify or even mention Arsenic. They are all fully herbal. You allopaths are unnecessarily biased against Ayurveda products. ”

Janaki had a penchant for perusing all the products before buying them. Jyothi had nightmares when this daughter accompanied her to the shops. She would snatch and put back some products from the shelves in the Supermarket saying

“ Come on Amma. This expired  a month  ago! And you want to buy this. Come let’s move to the other section.”

Jyothi said,

“ Okay. I will prepare tea and take Janu to the Doctor. She dashed into the kitchen.

Manju said,

“You go and change Amma. I shall prepare the tea for all.”

Janaki looked really crestfallen’ She was proud of her complexion and her figure.

Charu  sang in her  thick voice-

“ My face is my fortune, Sir you know, Sir you know..” she was really musically challenged and Sanjay doubled up with laughter.

“ Come on Janu. The Doctor should perhaps give you some cream and your spots will vanish. Phikal muth kar (  Don’t you worry) .”

Jyohi had changed into a crisp cotton saree and all of them had tea.

“What is the necessity to wear this new starched saree now, Jyothi? Yesterday’s saree is  in the coat-stand. You could have worn that.” Kamakshi chipped in drinking her tea.

“Aw!! Granny. Do you have to treat Amma like a college girl even now? Let her wear what she wants,” Sanjay had become rather bold these days, pitching in for his mother whenever the occasion demanded.

“ My boy,  I am not dictating anything. The poor girl will consign this to the bathroom bucket once she returns from the clinic and she only will have to starch this and iron this again! “

Janaki got up to accompany her mother and make this trip to the Doctor’s Clinic.

Kamakshi glared at her and shouted to  her

“Don’t  go like this to the Doctor with this sleepy face, Go and wash your face .  You people never have the habit of washing your face after getting up from sleep. You never follow any good  instruction  or unwritten rules !! ”

“Yes” said Manju, “Grandma is correct. Be a bit more presentable Janu and get rid of that woebegone look from your face . The world has not come to an end  !! ”

“Till now, “ piped in Sanju.

Manju grabbed a  clean towel and followed  Janaki.

Janaki washed  her face and extended her hands for the towel. Manu’s hand holding the towel stopped half way.

“Ooh!!  The marks are gone!”

Charu  pushed her and and peered at Janaki’s face.

“ Hey!! Poye pochu! Poyinddhi. It’s gone!!” She imitated the ad.

Manju reached out and turned the face towards herself.  No ! Absolutely  clear.  Kamakshi peered into the face. Sanjay was chuckling.

He said

“ Must have been the tomato and garlick paste that you had ground in the mixi for the pasta you promised to dish out for me for dinner. Phew ! What a scare you gave us !! “He went off upstairs humming a song.

‘Yes, “ Jyothi  said.” Must have splattered from the mixi  jar when you opened it! What a scare you gave us Janu.,” She said and went off to change that crisp cotton saree and get back into her old crumbled one.

“ And I thought it was some  sort of hyperpigmentation.Oof! What a scare you gave us Janu.” She went to her room to pick up the book on Robotic Surgery and continue from where she left.

Kamakshi kept muttering

“ This is why I keep saying , wash your face when you come out of the kitchen. Who listens to me ! “

Charu went into the kitchen to fill her pockets with potato chips as if there was no other care in the world.

Janaki went to the mirror to confirm that her face still glowed with that spotless sheen. She was happy.

***************************************************

 

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Suresh Rao
Suresh Rao
1 year ago

Much ado about nothing! If one is not careful during cooking and churning oily dishes in one can get a spatter and oil burns on ones face.

Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi
1 year ago
Reply to  Suresh Rao

For getting spatter on the face one has to be a real novice 🙂 Though oil burns are possible with Indian cooking but if you are careful and skilled enough, you don’t get them often but women don’t let such experimenters anywhere near their chullas ( Cooking stoves).

Suresh Rao
Suresh Rao
1 year ago

Navneet, Gone are the days when publishing books was a profession from which the publisher and writer made a living. As Usha says the BOOKWORMS are unable to pursue their passion.

The famous Khushwanth Singh, erstwhile editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India, was recently interviewed on TV. He said that his historical book ‘Train To Pakistan’ published in print in 1956 is the only book that got world wide attention because of the horrific tales of partition in India, the brutal killings of travellers in that last train to Pakistan he wrote about; the publishers made some money on it. He says, it was even that book was supposed to be a ‘Documentary’ and not even a novel in the strict sense of the word.

Khushwanth also said in the interview that during his working years he earned money only from Journalism, where he wrote a column or two reporting on facts after writing and rewriting the sensational news stories several times, before they went to print.

He said that ‘Sadrdarji Joke Books’ he sees in book stores (with Jokes that he had heard from others) are the only ones that see some re-prints!

In summary, no one reads novels and fictional story books these days. Journalists and News reporters with real life stories are the only people who who make some money from their reporting skills and writing skills.

Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi
1 year ago
Reply to  Suresh Rao

I agree, book reading is outdated now, but wonder how the publishing houses are still doing business and they seem to be doing quite well. I don’t know how and where they make money. E-book downloads are half the price or less than the printed edition and the day the book is released, you don’t even have to hunt for its pdf edition. Someone posts it in the whatsapp group. I have Obama’s A Promised Land with me. Do you want that? The poor writer’s royalty is 5% at best ( I have only heard about it. Have never got a penny though) and that is least in the thoughts of the publisher, so my question is that- who makes money? How is this business surviving?

Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi
1 year ago

About publishing the books, I share your pain as I too have had the same disappointment that many of us who set out with dreams in their eyes to explore the commercial world of publishing, end up with. There are millions others, who still, want to try and I feel bad for them. Copies of my book, ( Main Bhi Bana Minister) the one that I sent to you are lying in the store in the attic and I can’t throw them away. After that, I tried another two books but asked the publish to print on demand, because I knew there won’t be any demand 🙂 but I was wiser in the sense that I don’t have piles of the unsold of those at my home, looking expectantly at me. Now, publishing has become easier as you can use Amazon Kindle to publish them on your own, but the issue is not of publishing only, but is of selling your creative work. There are commercial managers and the promoters and people with fancy names to their trades and they all want to make their own buck. When, I launched this website, I thought, people will come to post their work here. I could have had it as a platform for posting only my works, but that’s not how I wanted it to be. I wanted to/want to share the pleasure of reading works of other people more than drawing it on seeing them reading mine. I was a sailor all my working career and there was none to read what I wrote. I am used to reclusiveness. People have better things to do than coming here, but coming back to the point, I still have it in mind that I will use this platform for show casing the works of the people, I have had to chance to read, the people whose writing skills I admire. The objective is to bring them out as Coffee table books from time to time. As regards, the hard copies, I think, sadly there time is gone…and now about the Hug part 🙂 A hug is a hug and it doesn’t need to be with in the confines of a relationship and it doesn’t need to be sanctioned by someone else, because it is an involuntary expression of one’s true feelings, but yes, we are passed that age, where free hugs can offend some and make other talk. You are a few years elder to my elder sister who is very dear to me and frankly speaking, from the very early days since, I came to know you through your writings, I have held a desire of meeting you- to come and have relish some of your South Indian preparations. When, we had come to attend the Hyderabad meet, I wanted made inquiries about a trip of TN, but somehow it didn’t materialize. Now with this Covid think being around, God knows when or if ever will I be able to make a fresh effort to do that, but I do look forward to it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi
1 year ago

You write lovely stories. One can read them over and over again including this one. I had read it at Sulekha platform and remembered it in bits, but because as I said, it is a pleasure to read your stories, I read it again for the sheer pleasure of it :). Surely, when women come out of the kitchen, they have the tell tale marks of the dishes they were preparing all over them. SmartSulekhika wears and apron, but our mom never wore one and she not only used to have the stains of all those masalas and haldi all over her, she has left the lasting impressions of her preparations on our hearts. 

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Thewriterfriends.com is an experiment to bring the creative people together on one platform. It is a free platform for creativity. While there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of platforms that provide space for expression around the world, the feeling of being a part of fraternity is often lacking. If you have a creative urge, then this is the right place for you. You are welcome here to be one of us.

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