Growing up in a disciplined environment, there were lots of rules. Rules about everything: what to eat, what to wear on Fridays, which way to sit up and how to address your elders. Eggs with toast in the morning – white rice with vegetables/fish in the afternoon – a type of Chapati (flat wheat bread) with some protein in the evening. We were required to drink tasteless milk from plastic packets written Milk Vita – with the logo of a blue, expression-free cow on the packet.
Some Bangalee saying dicated that you do not eat fish or bananas in the evenings; some religious incantation dictated that you should not be out of the house around the particular crimson time of sunset (illusory Jinn roaming around the vicinity, waiting to jump on your head).
It’s incredulous to think about all the rules we had. It was very unusual to question the wisdom or vicarious nature of these rules. If you did question, you were considered a rebel; which in some instances meant, your friends would snare at you or neighbors would label you as Noshto (gone to dogs).
My sister and I, the amicable sort, never challenged the dogma – afraid of the wrath that would befall us – if we deviated from this bizarre, yellow brick road. Some boisterous cousins could never understand the lack of will on our part, to complain or counter these obstinate rules.
Around my high school years, I stopped wearing the skull cap when going to the mosque. The concept around wearing the skull cap, that Shoitan (Satan) could (literally) not sit on your head, when you prayed. For a teenager, that predilection (of Shoitan not accompanying you) was pretty tough. However, as I would enter the mosque, or just before the prayer time, strangers would scurry around trying to find me a cap to ensure that my skull-cap free prayers would be “accepted” by God.
Doctors, diet magazines and all sorts of Oprah type of shows now tell us to have a protein-rich breakfast (with egg-whites) – avoid any sugar/caffeine in the morning, and preferably, have a glass of tomato juice (specially for men). Being the obedient “rule follower”, that’s typically the diet I follow, every week day.
This Sunday morning, I am eyeing the left-over pizza in the fridge. When Shania, my five year old, looks at the pizza and asks me for a slice, I don’t hesitate for a moment. I cut her two generous slices, warm up for 20 seconds in the microwave oven and serve it on her favorite Hello Kitty plate.
Life’s too short for these absurd rules. Enjoy your pizza, my little one. Would you like a choco-bar ice-cream after that? Not sugar free, not low-fat. Just regular vanilla bean, covered with smooth, dark chocolate crust – let it convert in your mouth into sheer, unadulterated, happiness and freedom.