What is the most grueling thing in the world – birthing children, raising them responsibly, watching them leave home, or seeing them wither in solitude?
Every mother would agree that the heartbreak of children flying the nest, never to return, causes heartache next to none. So, when the opportunity to stay with my children came my way, I grabbed it without second thoughts.
Motherhood demands sacrifice, and I willingly buried my desires and dreams to ensure that my children became the best version of themselves. I spent all my time nurturing them, teaching them to add value and co-exist in our health-conscious and highly competitive world.
"Focus on the core values to remain irreplaceable in this otherwise transient and evolving universe," I often said. My children learned quickly, and soon we became a formidable team.
While we climbed the ladder of success and made our place in the industry, we also made some enemies. I tried to be amiable, but they pushed me away. I often heard the jealous ones commenting:
"They are pungent by nature; mingle with them, and they will leave you briny and acetic.”
"What vanity! Are they the panacea to all problems?"
"What braggarts! They preach a lot."
"They want to rule the industry and make us redundant."
"Hey! That's unfair. Try us before you judge," I wanted to retort, but I knew my words would fall on deaf ears. They would never understand that we had evolved by ameliorating over time. So we kept to ourselves.
Heart in heart, I knew we were in the wrong place, living among bitter, capsuled, and artificially fabricated ones. But we could do nothing about it since that has been our home for ages.
So what if we were different? We were still alive. We played our role in the ecosystem and did our job well.
While I was unaffected by the discrimination, my heart pained to see my children suffering silently. My heart longed for the day we could mingle with others and let our hair down. The opportunity came in the most unexpected situation.
The most awaited fair in our neighborhood was in full swing. A sudden commotion caused an upsurge in visitors to my home.
"A child rammed his cycle into a food stall and suffered minor injuries. We need bandages and some antiseptic ointment for first aid," we heard the visitors say.
Our home was always well stocked, so the visitors got what they wanted in a jiffy. They picked up the medicines and rushed to attend to the hurt child.
A few minutes later, the food stall owner scurried in, visibly upset. "Only they can save me now. I want them. Help me," he said, pointing to us.
He thinks we can help. We must not disappoint.
We proceeded to the stall.
It was utter chaos there. A crate full of sauces and chutneys had spilled on the platform. A harried lady was trying to salvage whatever was possible. She was in tears.
"All is lost. All our efforts have gone to waste. There is not enough for the day, and it's almost time for lunch. What will we do?" She lamented.
"Do not worry, I have a backup plan. I have them, and we will experiment with food today," he said, pointing to us.
The woman looked flabbergasted when she heard his plan.
We settled in one corner while the couple prepared for the day ahead.
That's when she approached us.
"Hi, I am Red. Glad to meet you. We will be working together soon," she said with a broad smile.
Red looked as hot as her name, with a tall, slender body and a vivacious personality. Her dress augmented her figure. She looked refreshing.
"Hello," we said, with a jittery voice, unsure of ourselves.
"Meet my friends, Green and Black. It always helps if we know our teammates, so we bring out the best in each other," said Red.
Soon we were in a conversation, getting to know each other. The conversation flowed like wine, and we spoke about everything under the sun.
It didn't take long for us to realize we were like chalk and cheese.
While we appeared murky and ordinary, they were radiant, flamboyant, and distinctively different personalities. While Red was fiery, Green was subtle but confident, and Black was tangy and savory.
But for the first time, we were welcomed with open arms and accepted for who we were. No one was being judgemental of us. I knew my children would thrive in the company of Red and her friends. The heaviness in my heart lifted, and I was enveloped with a strange sense of calm.
My children would no longer be miserable in solitude.
Finally, we were in a place where we belonged.
Soon it was time for the test. All of us were here to help the couple create a new dish.
The man placed a wok on a stove, and we stood mesmerized watching him chop vegetables with precision. When it was time, he picked us up and added generous portions of Red chili sauce, Green chili sauce, Soya sauce, and Apple Cider Vinegar. The aroma of Chinese Pav Bhaji wafted along the lanes, and people thronged to the stall. The dish was declared a super hit.
We were now the awesome foursome. Together, we created an exquisite flavor unparallel to any other in the culinary world. My children and I no longer reside at the medical store. We have found our home, in the grocery section of a supermarket, among those of our kind. Red, Green, Black, and I are friends forever. And so we shall remain till the end of time.
Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother is unfiltered and unrefined vinegar and has a cloudy and murky appearance. It has many health benefits and can replace regular vinegar in cooking.
Melissa Askew on Unsplash