“Ramesh, dinner is set. Please come”, Mom called out for the third time.
Dad was busy watching television.
Mom went to Dad and said, “Come for dinner, dear. I have set the table a long time ago and waiting for you.”
Without taking his eyes off the T.V. screen Dad replied, “I will be there in a moment.”
Mom returned to the dining table and we waited for Ramesh and Dad to join us.
After ten minutes, when they did not arrive, Mom told me, “Rani you start your dinner. Your father and brother will join a little later.”
I could see that after the entire days’ chores Mom was tired. Yet, she was patiently waiting for Dad and my elder brother Ramesh.
This was an everyday affair. Dad and brother would arrive late for dinner every day and Mom would be tired and half asleep while performing winding up chores. They would arrive late, complete dinner and leave the table as it is. Mom would patiently cover all leftover food and store it hygienically. I often help Mom in cleaning up after dinner, but at times, when I have exams or urgent projects to complete, she prevents me from doing household chores.
My chain of thoughts broke with my Dad’s presence at the table. He pulled his chair and sat. I noticed the TV remote in his hand. The debaters on the electronic appliance howled louder now as Dad increased the volume.
He announced, “Serve me fast. I cannot waste my time on eating. There is a very interesting programme going on and I cannot afford to miss it.”
Mom listened to him and started doing the needful. In a little while my brother came to the dinner table, fretting and frowning.
He said, “Hey, mother! Why can’t you serve me dinner in my room? I have my project work to complete and can eat while working.”
The hint of disappointment and sadness in her eyes that surfaced in her eyes pierced my heart. Her desire to enjoy a warm family dinner remained unfulfilled even this day. After a little while, Mom and I sat side by side on the dining table and had our course. Mom and I had a quiet dinner. Her tear-brimmed eyes told me that she was feeling lonely.
The next morning Mom was up before everybody else. She did the usual chores of coffee for Daddy, lunchboxes for school and office, etc. etc….All of us gathered back at home in the evening and as usual Dad was watching his favourite TV programme, brother was busy with his projects and I was engaged with phone calls. Mom, as usual, was in the kitchen preparing our favourite dishes, which we only ate and never thanked her or appreciated her effort in preparing them. A few months passed by and the scenario was the same.
One day, while Mom laid out the table for dinner, the doorbell rang. It was quite unusual for us. All of us became curious to know who it was. Dad opened the door and, guess what, Dadaji was at it!
Our joy knew no bounds. We touched his feet and escorted him into the living room. After exchanging pleasantries, Mom set the table for dinner. She went to Dadaji and requested him to take his seat on the dining table.
Grandpa slowly walked down to the dining table aided by his stick.
“Ah, such beautiful flowers you have set here! Your food presentation skills are simply impeccable.”
Tears of joy rolled down Mom’s cheeks. Nobody had appreciated her for a long time.
Dadaji looked at Mom meaningfully. It seemed as though he understood what was troubling her.
He called out loud and clear, “Suresh (that’s my Dad’s name), come over to the table for dinner. Ramesh beta, you too come over. I am waiting for both of you.”
Dad stated his excuse, “Papa, I am watching one of the most popular shows on current affairs on TV. Please excuse me.”
Ramesh came over to the dining table, but fretted and fumed. “Oh Dadaji! I am in high school now and have project work. I cannot waste time having food on the dining table. Mom may please serve it to me in my room.”
Dadaji sternly commanded Mom, “Do not serve any food to these gentlemen anywhere else but on the dining table!”
Dad and brother were shocked to hear this. Mom was hesitant to execute the order but as it was coming from the family head she tried following it.
In a little while both Dad and my brother meekly walked over to the dining table and took their seats, one on each side of Dadaji. My grandfather was very happy to see them at the table.
When everybody was seated Dadaji asked, “Does anybody know the importance of dining together?”
Everybody, including Dad, was silent.
Dadaji resumed his speech, “It is quite sad to see that in our ‘busy’ lives we are forgetting how to live. Dining together is a pleasure. During our times, the number of family members was more. There were no dining tables but there were a lot of fellow diners. Today, we have luxurious dining tables, but no one to use them. Is this not a sad irony?
Dinner is the only time when the family gets to spend time with each other. It is the time when you bond with your family members by talking to them. No wonder it is said that a family that eats together, stays together. All your other engagements can wait when you are spending that precious half hour with your near and dear ones, once a day, right? Moreover, food that is consumed in the pleasant backdrop of love tends to be more nutritious than the one gulped down hurriedly or absent-mindedly.”
Dad and my brother realized their mistake and helped build a strong family by bonding over dinner.
- Pleasantries – good and courteous words
- Fretting and fuming – showing irritation and anger
- Debater – one who debates