FOOD HABITS – From Tea with Puffed Rice To Milk

Hi! I’m Baby. It is the Autumn of 1975.

I now live in Cardiff, Wales, with my parents and siblings. Autumn is here and there is  chill in the air. Mornings start with an intake of a mug full of warm milk. Milk – white in colour, smelly and nauseous. I have to drink it despite  my intense dislike for it. No tantrums possible. Why? Because my brother and sister have no problem in drinking it. Plus my father appears to be very strict and he has an authoritative look about him. He commands strict discipline and respect. A man of few words.

In Patna, at my grandparents place, my first morning food intake used to be a cup full of  tea along with a bowl full of puffed rice.  It was Darjeeling leaf Tea – was bought from tea shops that sold loose tea out of wooden caskets. The best tea one could possibly get.  I loved tea, but only that type of tea. Tea with less milk. It used to be yum.

Now back to Cardiff. There is no chance of getting tea with puffed rice here. My mother knows that I am having a tough time with this mug full of milk, daily. I once pleaded with her to not give me milk as I just didn’t like it. She said that I had no option but to drink it. She has changed from what she was in Patna, but  at least she has given me some leniency in the time taken to drink this white smelly liquid that is supposedly good for my health.

I have another problem when it comes to drinking milk. After every gulp that I  take in, one drop of milk just drips out of my mouth onto the dining table. Yes, Now I have to sit on a dining chair, something that is again not normal for me. I was used to sitting on a machia or a ‘peedha'( few inches high, small, wooden seat), in the “Aangan” of my grandparent’s home. I could drop food while eating. Nobody had problems with that.

But now, every drop of milk that fell on the dining table got me scared. My father once saw the drops of milk and said, “This is not to happen again”. No one had talked to me like this before. How do I stop the milk from dripping. It is not intentional. My mother understood that I was scared and that I didn’t know how to respond to my father. When I was alone she told me that it is OK if milk drips from my mouth while drinking. She would clean up the mess as long as I drink up the mug full of milk. This is how we have reached an understanding.

I drink milk every morning. But I so miss my tasty brew of tea along with crunchy puffed rice. I miss the brown flavourful liquid. Lately, my mother has been considerate with me and I do get the occasional cup of tea in the evening, during weekends. Brown is back.