A Lunchtime Lesson

Apr 7, 2017 By Smita, 12
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I grabbed my lunch off the chipped wooden table and shoved it in the rusty trash can. I peered inside to find the neatly cut, star-shaped Indian bread my mother made that morning mixed with stained paper napkins and crumbled candy wrappers. No part of me felt guilty as I skipped over to talk to my friends.

The next day was the same. I was embarrassed of my Indian lunch and I just wished for a regular one, so I would throw away my food. My mom thought I never “ate” anything but this type of Indian bread called roti, so that’s all she packed me every day. Each day she would spend a long time using cookie cutters to cut them into fun shapes like stars and the gingerbread man. I threw away my food for two weeks. Then one month. 6 months. I may have done this the entire year if it weren't for that one chilly February morning. 

It was a dark and melancholy morning. The strong breeze outside rattled the remaining leaves on the bare trees, causing a thin crackling sound that rose me from my sleep. Half asleep, I placed my feet on the fuzzy carpet and trudged over to the bathroom. After lazily brushing my teeth and spending close to 20 minutes in the shower, I dressed myself in my favorite green T-shirt and jeans and walked down the steps to the dining room. I sat in my seat and simply waited for the breakfast to come, as though it would magically appear in front of me. However, my mother wasn't in the kitchen making my breakfast. 

Two minutes later, my mom came sleepily walking down the steps, dragging one foot after the other to keep herself standing. She sniffled and reached into her robe’s pocket for a tissue paper, loudly blowing the mucus into the napkin. It was obvious she was sick.

“Mom, why are you downstairs?” I asked. “You are clearly sick. Go up and sleep.”

“No,” she replied with a raspy voice. “I will first make you your breakfast and lunch. I know that you would never eat hot lunch; all you eat are my rotis.” I looked into her eyes and saw determination. I saw kindness. I saw love. Most of all, I saw my own guilty reflection. How could I?

“Oh. Okay. Um, thanks,” I responded, slumping down into my seat. I felt a lump in my throat, and I began to repent for what I'd done. A warm tear ran down my left cheek and I immediately wiped it off. “Uh, Mom,” I said, holding back the flood of tears.

“Yes...”

I began telling her everything, every detail, from what I did to why, and started wailing. So much for holding back the flood of tears. “I’m so sorry, Mom,” I continued bawling. “I was just embarrassed by my lunch. I wish I had a normal lunch like a sandwich for once. It’s weird to bring roti to school every day.”

I looked at her anxiously, waiting for it to happen. Waiting for the screams, the pouts, the punishments. After a few minutes of silence, I took another glance at her and I realized they weren't coming. The rage storm of anger wasn't flowing toward me but instead I felt my mom’s tender hands wrap around me. She smiled. “Thanks for being honest,” she quietly said, breaking the silence. “It’s alright. From now on I’ll pack you whatever you want.”

She pulled me into a hug, not saying a thing as I cried silently into her shoulder. That said more than the words we just spoke. My arms gripped onto her tightly and my words were muffled as I said, “I love you, Mom. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine, now get ready for school.”

During lunch, I immediately sat at the chipped wooden tables and took a long sniff of the roti in my lunch bag. I then stuffed it into my mouth. The bread was gone within a matter of a few seconds. 

The feeling of respect for my mother has lingered around since that day. That day is the reason I appreciate what other people do for me. It also taught me to never waste food, especially if my mom packs me roti.