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Short story: Saga of the rubber band



By Ananya Tanwar

One day, my mum was preparing dinner while I was wandering around in the house. She was preparing something that we eat at least thrice a month, yellow lentils.  

As she went on with the recipe, she had to add coriander powder. And to our astonishment, it was finished. It wasn’t because we make the same dal at least three times in a single month. We live in India, a country full of ‘helping’ neighbours. So, instead of visiting the mart, my mother chose to borrow some coriander powder from our neighbours.

After some time, she returned home with a bowl of kheer (an Indian sweet dish) and a request to purchase some kurtas for an aunt who lives in the house next door. Though momma was home with the coriander powder, it took her 45 minutes to return.

The evening grew darker, so Mumma rushed through the cooking process. Only a pinch of powder was required. She quickly grabbed the packet, twisted off the rubber band, and here’s where it all began. The rubber band adventurously ventured into a foreign land. On top of the shelf? You never know. Below the fridge? No idea. Into the dish? It might be possible. All tense.

Observing closely, Mum scooped out some Dal, believing that she had found the band, but unknowingly she pulled out an onion slice. Another attempt, and chilly was discovered. We wondered whether the rubber band had dissolved in the Dal.

“Or maybe it didn’t want to end its journey right here.” Golden words which my mum had said that evening. Out of nowhere, she transformed into Dora, the Explorer and quickly checked on the floor of the kitchen. That was how my sibling found her. “I dropped something and I am unable to find it”, declared mom. Of course, it was understood that she was looking for something.

By then, my dad returned from the office. He had arrived at an emotionally charged moment. My fiendish pursuit of finding that silly rubber band led me to sweep the place in search of the band.

And we did find it! Some rusty scales, crumbled biscuits, and perhaps every other junk item apart from that band. A thought struck my mum. She mentioned that everything that goes up comes down, but what if the rubber band didn’t want to return? Yes, my mom expressed this. Justifying her statement she said that what if it went above the shelves?

To solve this mystery, I stepped up. What I found were only spider webs and a pyramid of dust. By now, we were exhausted and so we decided to have our dinner. My sister complimented momma on the delicious Dal. Further questioning her, “What did you add to it?” She continued, “When mum prepares food in a hurry, it is always tasty.”

In reality, my sister just wanted a new pair of sneakers. The dal lacked a bit of salt and it wasn’t completely cooked, yet no one complained. We all ate it carefully, as each serving went to our mouths, we observed whether the rubber band was still attached to it.

Later, my parents discussed whether consuming rubber might be hazardous. Papa suddenly recalled that in his school, some students would bring fascinating, tasty-looking erasers. He said that the erasers seemed so tempting that they would munch on them when their possessors weren’t around. Mum remembered, as absurd as it may sound. Even after eating those rubbers, my parents had still survived, and so I felt a bit relieved. The sole lesson I learnt that day is that you should never use rubber bands to pack your coriander powder packets. And even if you do so, please don’t lend the packet to your neighbours.