23 Dec 2013

#41 A pinch of salt

Short Story____By Sweta Sarangi     
       A pinch of salt

 Girls stood in a queue in mess waiting for the meal. Since it was Monday, the meal was supposed to be pure veg as per as the mess schedule. After attending lots of classes in the morning, we got exhausted completely as well as hungry even more. It was the time to get relinquished by having delicious meal. Whenever there are arrangements going on in the mess, it is one of my habits to go through the menu list pasted on the wall of the mess. The list tempted me so much that I would not have resisted myself more. The meal comprised of rice, dal, green freshly spinach, cabbage curry, curd and chips. If one is pure vegetarian, then she would be more satisfied after having a glance at the menu. The entire meal was enough to satisfy one’s hunger as well as taste. All of us got the trays and we headed towards the table to have lunch with our friends.

“But, the bowl is empty. Wait let me search for the other one.” Said I after looking into the bowl just kept in front of me on the table.

“Same thing here. Even if I am felling hungry, I can’t put a bite into my mouth as I use a lot of salt in my meal and you know it very well.” Grumbled a friend who occupied the adjacent seat to mine.

She added more to her speech “I thought that this menu would be better after reading the list. But I could not imagine something like this would happen accidentally.” She was fond of eating and would never mind suggesting the ways to improve the quality of food, what should be added and what not and which would yield a better flavor.

“I think we will have to manage today without salt.” I said who had already put a bite in mouth and any how I could not hide that. In order to make the environment quite calm, I gave such a statement. But later it proved to be fruitless.

“If you can manage, then it’s fine. I won’t. Can’t they provide salt??”Said my friend in an aggressive tone.

“And finally a day has come, when we will have to stop relying upon salt as a staple ingredient. But, the meal tastes sweet as if sugar have been added instead of salt or the greatest chefs of our mess failed to distinguish between salt and sugar rather…..Huh!! It’s ridiculous.” Said the friend sarcastically and made an attempt to put another bite into her mouth. Her body gesture made me smile a bit more than previous.

“A day without salt, you mean”. Interrupted a girl who was sitting in front of my friend and started taking interest in our gossip as she found herself sailing in the same boat as that of ours.
The pages of history book started getting opened up in my mind. I felt as if the non-cooperation moment was going on. The mess authorities might want to test our patience by making us wait for a pinch of salt which was the ultimate requirement. If this was so, then we girls would not lag behind.  

“How are you eating?? The curd is so sour and the curry is equally tasteless with lots of spices. Yuck…..I can’t eat.” The girl vomited out a lot of complaints with a weird expression in her face.

“Today, maggi will help to solve the crisis of salt, at least far better than this salt less meal.”Said the girl and suddenly she rose up from the chair and moved towards her room.

“Listen friends; imagine that a pinch of salt is being sprinkled over your meal. If you fail to do so, let me know. I will help you by making an action of sprinkling”. I said jokingly and tried to bring smile to everyone’s face who seemed to me gloomy right there.

“Availing salt is everyone’s birth right. We are not an exception.” Shouted a girl sitting at the end of the row. This was her reaction after hearing our gossip. What to do, this is the nature of girls to intensify every situation. They comprehend every situation in their own way. This statement indicated the premonition of a revolt in mess.

“Please pass the salt,”said a friend of mine impatiently.

“Be quick, yaar. I’m feeling hungry and today the entire meal is just tasteless because of lack of salt as ingredient.” Said the same girl again.
     After that every one present in the mess started demanding for the salt as if it was a great possession. Shouting loudly and relentlessly and each time even more. The entire scene in the mess seemed chaos. While asking to the manager of the mess, we got the reply that the salt had gone out of stock. If anyone wanted salt then she would have to wait for some time. The phrase ‘some time’ indicated that long duration of time not exactly defined, to reduce the curiosity of the girls asking helplessly for the salt.
     Girls are gossip mongers, so they don’t have to search for any topic to initiate a discussion. They are much faster than any news channel to reveal what is going on around. They are themselves journalists in their respective areas. Generally after returning from college, the topic of discussion is confined to only the happenings of the college and professors but the salt made its way into our discussion. The expressions of girls while eating were worth watching. We were impatiently asking for salt at small intervals of time with a hope that the last few bites would provide us the actual pleasure of eating. Without finding any alternatives, I tried hard to finish my meal because I had already taken 25 minutes but on an average, time taken to finish the meal is 15 minutes. While returning to room, as harbinger I spread the message to my fellow batch mates to carry some amount of salt to mess.   
      At that instant of time, we were in need of a pinch of salt. A pinch of salt that would add flavor to the meal, satisfy the taste buds and hungry stomachs. It was of greater importance at that point of time than anything else.
    The importance of something is felt only in its absence. In a similar manner, one should be like salt whose presence is not felt but its absence makes everything tasteless.  Salt is added as an ingredient daily but whenever it is less in amount spoils the taste of the entire dish. Everyone should try to cultivate such a characteristic that highlights one’s absence rather than presence. Everything is significant in its own way, whatever ordinary it may seem.

Wishing every reader of this short story “MERRY CHRISTMAS”.



  1. Crisis averted at the right time! Or we could have seen history repeating itself beginning from dandi march( or brahmani march as you would say :p ).........
    Really entertaining story filled with humor, the way it is written it binds the readers to the plot..........
    It also shows the real picture of how the future technocrats of India are groomed ( every year India produces engineers 12 times more than USA )
    As Swami Vivekananda said, "healthy mind resides in a healthy body"
    and we can't have healthy body with MAGGI only

    1. Yes, you are correct.... One can not stay healthy by eating Maggi only. For that day, it was a substitute to the salt less meal.
      Thank you for reading this story....

  2. Wow!! It was nice...and I would like to know the source of inspiration for this story...

    1. Thanks for reading. The source of inspiration is the mess of our hostel. We had to manage a day without salt.......And that is the story.....:)