One 'Sobremesa a day' - There is nothing great about a family meal except
Except that in a culture of 'INSTANT' and 'DISTRACTION,' one family meal is where
One disconnects to connect. A frenzied screen life(that's how I define our regular life today) finds some time to stop by and look beyond the screen.
Google university is replaced by life's essential lessons shared via experience.
A meal is appreciated. They say eating is a necessity, but cooking is an art. And the person who cooks for the family blends labor and love with art to present the plate that comes before you. How can one not appreciate and feel grateful? And food definitely tastes better when you eat it with your family.
And nutrition blends with togetherness to provide a complete experience to the body. Nutrition is not only about eating right and eating healthy. If the food on the plate does not have a sense of emotion, the nutritious meal can hardly matter. The feelings come from family. The feelings of sharing, bonding, and connecting with each other- A connectivity no telecom service or internet service can provide.
My father loved family meals. I do not know why and how he found this habit so essential. Morning breakfast used to be a rush; we didn't meet him for lunch., so all we had was a family dinner. He loved talking and was vocal about his emotions. He talked about everything, how his day at work was, the conversations he had with his colleagues and managers, his working style, work ethics, problems encountered, and his appraisals. He hid less and expressed more. Mum would contribute to his talks and narrate about her day- about neighbors, some relative's phone calls, the maidservant, and her school. And we would add our little titbits of broken crayons and a pencil a friend that glowed in the dark.
That was one place, one time, and one atmosphere in a day where we connected with each other not only through food on the plate but through a unifying emotion of belonging to each other. I still remember how I kept thinking about my father's poor appraisal rating and how worried he was. I didn't know about appraisals then, I was all of maybe 12 or 13, but I was with him in my own little way. When I lost the elocution contest, he was there with me in his own little way. My elder brother was with me in his own little way when I had my Maths exam the next day. That is what family meals were about- STORIES. These stories were shared every day. Stories of hard work and success, stories of neighbors and relatives, stories of failures and disappointments. Stories that held us together, stories that reverberated within us long after dinner was over and we retired to our rooms. They were regular life stories shared on a dining table over a simple or exotic meal. Not every story was beautiful. The dining table also witnessed silent family meals interrupted by a clatter of a serving spoon or somebody asking for a second serving. Even in that silence, stories were heard. But as they say, every story had a lesson, and I learned the most important lessons of my life on the dining table. Not to forget that these stories shaped my thoughts about my career, and I owe a lot to the dining table for what I am today.
Today when I see my 4-year-old sharing his little titbit and my husband getting distracted by this tiny gadget in his hand, I wonder whether I would be able to carry on the tradition which my father started. I fail to understand the power, the potential, and the omnipresence of a tiny screen in life that is ready to end what I consider a priority of every family. As I give a stern look to my husband, he hastily shoves the device and asks my son, ‘So, what were you saying?’ My son replies, ‘I told my friend Kaushik that my father can fix anything in this world. He is the best.’
As I keep away the dirty dishes, I find myself fighting a battle in my mind. My biggest enemy today is that tiny gadget, a small screen pinging incessantly and the world ready to gratify me instantly. I am Applefied, I am Facebooked, I am Amazoned. Will I learn to live again, or is this the new life? I sleep with this battle, checking the FB messages that poured while I was cooking, putting an alarm on my iPhone to wake me up, and placing an order for Lego blocks on Amazon.
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