As he mixed the dough, he calculated in his mind the amount he would need for paying his son’s fees. If I made, a hundred porottas today may be I will get enough money. His wife had told him as he left for work, “Why don’t you ask any of the teachers?”“No, I can’t. That won’t be fair”.
“They get a lot of money every month, chetta. All you need is just ask and you will six hundred rupees for sending him for study tour. “
“I know it’s his twelfth standard and he needs to study things. But how can I ask them? They might be getting money, a lot of it. But they also have families, children, car loans, house loans and the list is long. Unless they are like RJK who has a lot of money, no children and no sense of humanity.
You and your stories, Jaya laughed.
Now, when mixing the dough, he was counting all the time. What can a small college canteen bring in a day? Not much but he was well loved by the people as he was an honest man who did his work and never complained. Well, today was different.
“Three porottas and vegetable curry”. A little voice said. It was a girl from the first year. Not that he knew her name or class but could easily make out that she was from the first year by looking at her. First years are of three types- the glam girls making lots of noise wherever they are, the bookworms who are never out of the library and the shy ones who try to make themselves as invisible as possible.
As he was giving her the plate, he noticed that how small she was. May be too young to be in college. She smiled and said “thank you”, which reminded him of his little girl Lakshmi.
“Where are you from?” he dared.I’m from Kollam. I stay at the hostel here. Where are you from?”
In his twenty years at the canteen, nobody had asked him such a question. He was surprised.
“What happened? Are you not keeping well?”the little girl asked.
“Nothing kid. I was just worried about something”.Then he thought of how he could offer a special package today and make fees for his son and for his little Lakshmi who has to go to college someday.
There has to be a better tomorrow someday, better from this hand-to-mouth existence. He wrote a fresh entry on the board. “Take home packages of porotta and curries. Book yours now”.