Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Eat less,live more.

Aandi was a thin shrunken old man well past into his eighties when I first met him in my new home in Calicut after my marriage. I was  22 years young with an enormous appetite at any time of the day. Infact I believed that food was the best part of life's purpose.
Aandi was a trusted old worker who had served the household well over 60 years and now been superannuated However he was required to make his appearance everyday as my father -in- law was unable to do without Aandi's chit- chat. Aandi was his local "Google' who was a  repository  of a great deal of useful information like copra prices,  folk remedies,  local gossip etc. What is more, he could predict rain looking at the clouds above!To ensure his regular visits, father in law 'ordered ' Aandi to avail of his retirement  benefit package which included a free lunch  at  noon ; siesta on the wooden bench in the courtyard;  to be followed by tea at 3.p.m.I was  also officially  informed that I was allotted the duty of serving food and tea to Aandi. It did not exactly thrill me to start on my duties , but his word was law and how  dare a new daughter in law voice her dislike?

On the appointed day and time, Aandi , true to his word,was seated hunched over a piece of fresh green banana leaf spread in front of him , waiting for his meal, on the far end of the large verandah making my walk from the kitchen longer. As I neared him, balancing a mound of steaming rice on a plate  and a container holding sambar and ladle for serving, He grinned revealing a toothless mouth gesturing  for restrained serving. He ate very little food   perhaps enough only for 3 peckings.I tried to encourage him to eat by offering another helping but he 'd have none of it. This went on next day too and to me it seemed a waste of time for Aandi to walk 1 km from his home only to nibble at a frugal bit of rice. This time I insisted he eat more, but with a firm gesture he cut me short. Then , he told me the secret. God had preordained the quantity of food to be consumed by every one of us in our lifetime. It was upto us to stretch it over a longer period thus lengthening the life span or devour it faster and make quick exit.Please donot shorten my stay here , he urged. That really struck me hard. And every time thereafter I checked myself when taking second helpings!  
A week ago, a health magazine reported  that research in a prestigious international institute had shown that frugal eaters lived longer and healthier. But Our  illiterate Aandi had preached it decades ago in simpler but striking manner.His message had been indeed highly digestible!

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Thoughts and Voices by Radha Iyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.