Ricebag Favour

( Flash Fiction – Mini Story )

It was an unexpected but not unpredictable offer – a twenty- five kilo bag of parboiled rice . It was hard to say no without being impolite : the offer was so spontaneously made . Last year , too , after the rice harvest , the bag had arrived . It was good rice , and useful , but far too much for a wheat – eating or basmati – savouring household of one . In the end more than half had to be thrown away , since it got worm infested. When the new bag arrived , however , and was about to be torn open , qualms of conscience at last year’s wastage struck hard . A polite phone call , a one kilo steel box sent for being filled out of a bag already being used , and a promise to collect more when needed, did the trick , though not without some pushback , which was even more politely countered .

“ Would you be able to spare fifty – thousand rupees for ten days ? Just ten days , I’ll return it on the 30th .” The second call was unexpected . Banks were closed for three days and cash in hand was limited . The ability to refuse was a relief . Nevertheless , a thought refused to go away : “ What have we done to our farmers, even the comparatively better-off ones ? “

( Amita Sarjit Singh Ahluwalia)

20 November 2020

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