I am non-vegetarian. Being non-vegetarian is a sin. I was unaware of our gross inhumanity until I saw a chicken being cruelly slaughtered. That day I decided I won’t eat chicken again. I very firmly asserted my case that I will not eat non-vegetarian food again.
I thought my mother would force me to remain non-vegetarian like most of our clan bug my mother did do anything to convince me. She just gave me plain rice with pulse while every else savoured on the spicy chicken. My vow of not eating chicken continued for a few more months.
As soon as chicken was cooked in the house, it’s savoury smell would go inside my nostrils. I avoided going in the kitchen because my saliva glands were activated by the deliciously cooked spices of the chicken. My mother saw my love and started serving chicken’s gravy to me. Later on I again turned non-vegetarian as along with the gravy first came small pieces of chicken and my favourite leg-piece came back.
Though I became non-vegetarian, I felt ashamed in front of my vegetarian friends. Though we are basically non-vegetarian but our family is a very religious Hindu family. So we would not eat non-vegetarian food on Tuesdays and Thursdays . We would also remain vegetarian in the month of Savan and on other festivals.
It was our first visit to Varanasi and my mother decided to remain vegetarian. She didn’t want to eat non-veg food in holy city of Kashi, abode if Lord Shiva himself. Later on I became a student of Banaras Hindu University. So living in Kashi, I became vegetarian though I would fest on non-veg delicacies back home or on tours.
When I was non-vegetarian, I had a group of friends who were vegetarian and who would dissuade me from eating non-veg good by telling me it’s cruel and it’s brutal. These same sets of friend had no qualms in giving rat poison to rats or killing snakes. One of these friends also believed that egg is a fruit and doesn’t hone under the category of non-veg. But in Varanasi when I was vegetarian I got another set of friends who sincerely believed that the only reason I was lanky was that I was eating vegetarian food.
But this story is not about me or my friends and their prejudices for certain food items. It began with my searching for a house on rent. After a long search I found a house , the owner’s name was Govardhan Pandey. The moment I agreed with the rent and was satisfied with the room the question sprang up,” Are you non-vegetarian?”
“No, I said currently I am vegetarian.” I wanted the place, the owners were Brahmin, they could deny me stay in my grounds of non-vegetarian identity. Later on I came to know that there was one member of that Brahmin household who was eating non-veg daily and that was their dog Spotty. My tension eased because I was planning to switch over to non-vegetarian food.
On one fin day I was walking in the small garden of the house when my nostrils were stimulated by the smell of chicken being cooked. My senses couldn’t deceive me. That moment my landlady came out. She caught the baffled look on my face. She said the whole truth, “Actually my mother’s family is non-vegetarian but Uncle (landlord) believes that we are vegetarian.” Uncle had gone out for some work and his family behind him was enjoying the non-vegetarian delicacies without him. It was an eye-opener for me.
Several months passed and one day I went to a restaurant with the efforts of my friends I was non-vegetarian again so we went to a restaurant famous fir its non-vegetarian cuisines. The moment I entered the restaurant I saw Uncle , my landlord digging his teeth on the freshly cooked tandoori kabab, my eyes rolled as if they would leave my eye sockets.
Uncle caught my expression, he requested me and my friends to join him. We joined with a bit of reluctance and while we were leaving that place Uncle looked at me with guilty eyes. “ Please, don’t tell it in my family. Actually I eat non- veg food sometimes but nobody in my family knows.”
“Alright,” I said. There are many things that better be left unsaid.
by Dr. Purnima