My friends have been talking about my lunch box for the past few days, so today I’ll look back to see how it and its contents have changed over time.
#1 The elementary school
I used to cry a lot when I started going to school. I was such a crybaby! I wanted my mom with me and hated being around strange people without her. Until I made friends and found things interesting, she had to find ways for me to go without crying or complaining. So she began making healthy snacks for my tiffin box. Sometimes she’d even include my favorite fruits. Unknowingly, this attracted other kids to me and filled me with pride when they praised my mom’s cooking skills. I was so excited about eating that sometimes at second period (recess was after fourth) I couldn’t help but open up the box early! Other kids did it too, so it never felt weird.
#2 middle school & high school
From middle school to high school, I had a similar kind of tiffin. Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t well during that time and couldn’t cook. So, we hired a maid who cooked for us. Almost every day I had to bring roti and some fries or curry—healthy but not exciting. Many of my friends brought the same thing, but mine were always the best because they stayed soft even after getting cold. Occasionally I’d bring chicken curry with roti or prawn noodles—a majestic meal once or twice a month! My tiffin was usually simple and cheap, but it took effort to keep it intact until breaktime.
Part I: It was the time when I got admitted to an engineering college and moved into a paying guest accommodation. For the first few semesters, I had no lunch box or food of my own. When I had money, I ate at the college cafeteria but it was too expensive and unhealthy for me. Luckily, some friends brought tiffin from home – it felt like heaven! One close friend even shared most of their meal with me until I fell ill and returned home again.
Part II: Due to my health issues, I decided to move home. Traveling from home to college took more than two hours each day, so I had to start before 7am in order to arrive on time for 9am classes. The good thing was that my mom started making lunch for me again; as I had lost a lot of weight over the past two years, she wanted me to eat more. She would give me generous amounts of food – even at lunchtime! My lunchbox became popular once again and people who were still living in the hostel waited eagerly for it.
I never appreciated the effort put into making my lunch every day for all these years. Someone always prepared it, but I’d throw a fit if the bread wasn’t perfect or was slightly burnt, or if I didn’t like the curry. How immature of me!
#4 Present time
I’ve moved to a new city for my job and I’m all alone. Nobody makes lunch for me, so most of the time I can’t bring a box or have a decent meal. One reason is that my food habits are different from those here. The people I go out with either live here or have shifted with their families, so they usually bring homemade food. My lunchbox sits in the corner, filled with bread and peanut butter while theirs brim with curries, roti and desserts.
My cooking skills are still at an early stage, which doesn’t help much either. It’s not a problem for me to eat what I can afford or cook – but it seems to be a major concern for my peers who laugh at my lunch box every day and often hesitate to share theirs with me.
Yesterday was one of those days when I made something more substantial than just spreading butter on bread; Samantha noticed right away and said “Omg! She brought LUNCH today!” Someone else replied “What’s new in that? Most days she brings it.” Samantha explained: “Everyday she brings joke as lunch. Today it seems like she brought something decent.”
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