The Ladyfinger's story
- Sunila Karir
- Sunila Karir
“Potatoes, 10 rupees a kilo, jaldi lelo, jaldi,” a vendor cried out from one corner of the market.
“Green, Green peas, fresh from the farm,” yelled another farmer.
It was Tuesday and the vegetable market was very crowded.
Vegetables of all types, shapes and sizes were brought here every Tuesday. It was the weekly market day you see, and people from all parts of the city came here to buy their weekly supply of fresh veggies at really rock bottom prices.
Right in the middle of this cacophony was a tall heap of the greenest, most delectable looking ladyfingers.
“Fry them crisp…make them yum,
Bhindi is for everyone”
Bhindi is for everyone”
The bhindiwallah cried out in his off key voice.
Men and women were rummaging through the ladyfingers, carefully picking and choosing the best of the lot.
Now while all the ladyfingers were shiny and fresh and perfectly formed, was one little lady finger who was not as half as pretty as her counterparts. While most of them were a perfect hexagon, this one ladyfinger had a dent running across her body. As a result, she had a grotesque shape.
From the time the market began in the morning, this ladyfinger was being tossed about from one end of the pile to another.
“Ew! That’s spoilt. Don’t put that bhindi in,” said an old lady to the vendor and out it went, back into the pile.
A woman picked it up next. She was going to make some tawa fry for her daughter. One look at the ladyfinger and she too tossed it back without a second thought.
From person to person, the poor vegetable suffered the same fate. As the sun began to rise higher and higher, the ladyfinger could see less and less of her sisters. The heap of ladyfingers grew smaller and the crowd was also a lot less than what had been in the morning.
The little, deformed ladyfinger was heartbroken. She knew that very soon, if she wasn’t picked up by anyone, she would be thrown into the smelly market dustbin, where she would rot and wither away. The sad ladyfinger tried to blink away her tears but yet, she could not help but be completely heartbroken.
It was noon and the sun was high above their heads. Most of the other ladyfingers had gone away to their future homes. They would now be the pride of some momma’s bhindi fry and would be consumed with great taste.
The bhindiwallah was about to gather his basket and throw the remaining bits of ladyfingers when a young man with an overgrown beard approached him.
“Wait…don’t throw it away,” he shouted out loud. The bhindiwallah stopped and looked at the man. “What do you want?” the vendor asked him.
“Can you please show me your bhindis?” the young man requested.
The vendor was a bit perplexed but he obliged.
“Can I take this ladyfinger?” the man asked, pointing to the little deformed bhindi.
“Of course, here you go,” the vendor handed over the ladyfinger to the fellow.
“How much do I have to pay you?” the man asked, putting the little ladyfinger carefully into his pocket.
“Oh, no! Take it. It’s free. In any case I was about to throw it away” answered the bhindiwallah.
“Hey! Thanks a lot!” and saying thus, the man walked away out of the vegetable market.
The ladyfinger could not believe her fate. She had been miraculously been saved from a certain existence of rot and slow death. Happy and exhausted by the anxiety, she fell off to sleep in the man’s warm pockets while he walked on.
The little ladyfinger woke up to a very strange smell. What was this? This was certainly not the smell of a kitchen as had been described to her. She looked around…and what did she see?
All around her, she saw a splash of vibrant and most beautiful hues. Reds merged with dark green and blues and pinks and bright yellows which made the room sparkle in the afternoon sun which swam in from the windows. She was, in fact, inside the studio of an artist. The man who had rescued her was a painter. The weird smells were that of the paints and various other art materials.
As the ladyfinger stared at the wonderful mixture of colours, the door to the studio opened and the painter came in. He looked thoughtfully at the bhindi. He picked her up with great care and walked up to a canvas that was covered. Lifting up the cover, the ladyfinger could see that the painting was incomplete. Some parts of the painting were colourless and for a long time, the painter had pondered over what would make his painting complete. He had somehow lost the inspiration to finish his piece of art…but when he had seen the little lady finger on that hot summer day in the market, he had suddenly known what was missing from his painting.
The painter walked up to the shelf where the ladyfinger lay and he gingerly picked it up. Caressing it gently, he took out a scalpel from his jacket and made a neat cut on her head. The ladyfinger was a bit scared and it closed its eyes shut in anticipation of the pain but surprisingly, it did not hurt. The ladyfinger had borne enough pain already in its heart and in comparison; the pain from the scalpel was next to nothing.
As the painter looked at the cross section of the lady-finger, he knew he had been right. Within it, he found the shape of the most beautiful flowers he would need to complete his painting.
He dipped the vegetable in red and stamped it on the canvas. He stepped back and examined his handiwork. He was pleased. Yes! This was the effect he had wanted for his painting.
For the next two hours, he dipped the ladyfinger in various colours and made the most beautiful tree he had seen…only in his imagination. Even the ladyfinger could not believe that she would be responsible for something so beautiful.
It was late in the evening and the painter, at last, finished his creation. He was a happy and content man. The exuberance of inspiration was something which only an artist could experience and understand and that was exactly what the artist was feeling today. He shut off the lights of his studio and went out. Today he would take his best friend out for dinner.
The lights from the street shone through a slit in the window and the studio was aglow with the dim light. The ladyfinger, dry with paint all over it looked at the beautiful painting. She could hear a little bird chirping in her heart. Never in all her life could she have imagined that she; neglected and thrown away by most, could be responsible for something so beautiful.
Her mind was swimming with emotions…in one short day, she had seen it all…agony, neglect, fear of death…but above all, exhilaration with the feeling that she had been, in some small was responsible for bringing some beauty in this world. Exhausted, the ladyfinger went to sleep…right next to the canvas of the beautiful red tree.