As I climbed uphill, I could see the roaring Teesta River starting to diminish from my sight. It was exactly 5 pm and, during winters, the sun sets by this time. I could faintly see a concrete wall on top of the hill. Wishing it would be a guest house, I motivated myself to walk as fast as I could. There were pine trees all along the path. I had a small backpack which I always carried with me. I took out the torchlight and lit it to show me the way. After nearly half-an-hour of a tiring uphill walk, I reached the hilltop. The concrete wall was there. Indeed, it was a small construction of two rooms. One of the rooms had a light bulb lit. I wondered as to who built this building in such a place. It seemed as if no one ever lived there for years. A substantial part of the building was filled by algae and climbers. But the light made me curious. I moved closer to the house to check it out. There was something engraved on the upper part of the façade. I focused my torch light to see what was written. “Teesta Guest House” – it mentioned.
Since the other room was lit, I went inside the darker room to check if it was vacant. Yes, it was! I was happy for finding myself a room. But, the thought of staying alone in such a guest house was intimidating me. Finally, after giving it an optimistic thought, I collected the courage to spend my night here. I thought of checking out whether there was anyone in the other room. Just then, I could hear some male voices in an argument. I eavesdropped along the wall to listen to their argument. In the beginning, I could hear nothing other than alien sounds. But, as I continued spying, I understood the whole matter. It seemed that there were 5 people staying in that room. They were arguing on how to make the Kheer more delicious.
As time flew and night advanced, I started feeling hungry. I had a packet of biscuit with me. I started to munch it. Complementing it with a bottle of water that I had carried, I was done with my dinner. It was just 8 pm by that time. Even though the room was dusty and dirty, it had a light bulb and one window through which fresh air could come in. There was a bed but no mattress to lie down on. So, I could not sleep. Instead, I thought of listening to the conversation going on in the other room.
“Kheer should be made with pure cow milk”, one of them said. Another guy replied, “Yes! We must even prepare it in pure Basmati rice to make it more delicious.”
Actually, these 5 people were workers at a nearby construction site. Although there were many other workers, the others spent their nights elsewhere. Among these 5, there were 2 masons, 2 carpenters and a porter. They were making Kheer for dinner. Everyone had something or other to say about Kheer.
“We should use palm sugar instead of plain sugar,” the porter said.
“Even the ratio of the elements must be balanced. We cannot use 2 kg of rice for 2 liters of milk,” one of the carpenters said.
“Yes! The ratio of rice to milk must be 1:3 and sugar to rice must be 1:2,” another carpenter said.
“No, the sugar to rice ratio should also be 1:3. Only then, the Kheer will be tasty,” the first carpenter opposed.
One of the masons added, “We must add grated coconut, cashew nuts, and raisins to add to the taste of the Kheer.”
I was keenly listening to the five of them. They were talking about a standard of Kheer that they wished to have but could not. All the ingredients of the Kheer that they talked about were not available with them. But, they thought that actual Kheer must be similar to what they said.
“Even if all the ingredients are in place, the Kheer won’t be delicious if it is not made well,” the 2nd mason intervened in the discussion. It seemed that he was the cook. “If we don’t heat the Kheer in a medium temperature, it will get spoiled. The raisins and cashew nuts must be added at the end so that they don’t melt and pamper the taste of the Kheer,” he added.
After an hour of their conversation, the making of the Kheer was completed. They had their Kheer but not as they talked of. It was like rice with milk and added sugar. But, they enjoyed the Kheer for their dinner.
The Kheer is analogous to our life. Even we plan our life to be the best. We desire for good things in our life so that it becomes beautiful. We want the best combination possible so that we get the best outcome in life. Everyone has the right to dream and desire. Our life, too, has certain important ingredients which, if balanced, bring out the best in us. As for the medium temperature in which the Kheer must be cooked, our life also has a certain pace at which things happen. We wish for good things to happen quicker and more often, and bad things to get delayed and never happen. But, life is a race against time. We cannot control the pace it takes as it moves on and makes us discover new things – be it good or bad.