A group of senior citizens I know, often gather together to enjoy a good breakfast in a garden. Under the shade of a tree, they sit on benches and call for a folding table to spread the menu their loving wives have prepared. It’s quite a bonding time where these old friends laugh out loud and do some breathing exercises before they put into their mouths, health sprinkled with spice of love and affection, all laid out before them.
Today when a basket was brought to be kept on a bench, I noticed it to be an old fashioned kind of a carrier. It was a lovely plastic container, designed aesthetically with big handles to carry all the food placed inside it with great love and care. What drew my attention was not the food therein, because that was all wrapped up and covered with a colourful napkin over it. It was the basket that caught my eye.
My memory, took me some more than forty years back on a balcony where there was a similar basket always kept in a corner with a rope tied to its handles. The little me then, I remembered, indulged in the comfort of shopping from the balcony everyday when the vegetable vendor used to come with a spread of nutritious colours laid neatly over a handcart. He had a typical call, on hearing which all those interested in purchasing food plants, came out on their balconies for a good shopping experience. Bhaji kaka (Vegetable uncle) is what we called him then. So many eyes would be looking down and making a mental pick of their day’s requirements and then shouting out their orders loud and clear for him to make note of. The funny part was that we all knew what would be cooking in the neighbourhood homes for the day. The baskets would be let down with the right amount neatly placed inside for the purchase, and the vegetables would be placed in exchange for the money and the strings would be pulled up gently. As a little girl it was all so much of unique fun for me.
As I grew up, the construction patterns in the city changed over time and the balconies disappeared and so did the baskets. Today I stand in long queues in malls pushing trolleys with the food purchased with every item stuck with its price on it. I still haven’t got myself ready for the latest convenience of ordering my culinary requirements online simply because I prefer to work on my tactile and visual senses before every purchase.
Suddenly the basket on the bench made me realise how the supermarkets had replaced Bhaji kaka and the trustworthy connection between the buyers and sellers. We almost had shared a relationship with him. He knew our tastes and often reminded us that he had brought what we liked. ‘The tomatoes today are real red and juicy. They will make a delicious soup’, he would call out to my granny standing three floors above on the balcony; straining her eyes to see well. The basket saved her the inconvenience of going down the stairs and climbing up again. The dropping down of the basket and pulling it up when pregnant with food was my delight. It was like a game for me, one which never bored me. Also, it was a skill to get it up steadily without it swinging with its overflowing colourful contents. When I had successfully pulled it up and granny had the handles in her grip I could see an understanding flow out of the senior eyes, both, the ones standing next to me on the balcony and the ones looking upwards from down below. As compared to such a dependent experience of those days, today’s shopping malls have given me comfort and better convenience, but Bhaji kaka’s love and blessings are missing, just like the missing basket.
Bhaki kaka’s communication skills were a delight to learn from by simply observing him and the way in which he coped with life, people and situations. He filled baskets with his goodwill. Over a period of time he had become our family’s balcony friend.
Today, as the friends settled down to unload the contents of the basket into their hungry plates, I couldn’t stop thinking about the unzipped possibilities open baskets could have. Fashion repeats itself and these baskets have come back in style. Imagine if we were to once again like the olden days, carry baskets filled with love, what infinite possibilities we could have, to create change in our lives! If we delved deeper into these baskets of love we could find therein trust and understanding along with simple sharing and caring; emotions largely lost to many today. We could put in agreements and remove any overloading and unhealthy grievances. We could call them baskets of intelligence which would allow time for open exploration of kindness and intimacy.
Metaphorically, we could use this basket as our life and put into it anything that we desire or even pull out what has been mistakenly put into it due to our negligence.
A basket with good food in it would be so very full of life in itself. To carry it along and walk towards a tree to sit underneath it, would be so much better than going to a restaurant and searching the menu card there.
We certainly need to have some open baskets to carry around on our journey; baskets to fill in love, baskets to drop in care, baskets to pack with understanding, baskets well arranged with sympathy, baskets overflowing with forgiveness, mercy, magic of wonderful memories, kindness, and baskets to gather in them promising great humans.
(Picture credits: Google)