It was around 2001. A little girl with a sleek hair strolled into the streets of Dharan holding her father’s hand. She wore her favourite T-shirt and a pair of jeans. Her side bag dangled as she walked past the streets; her thoughts tangled amidst the new city and eyes wandered in fascination.
It was yet another new city. We had moved to this city after my father was transferred there. It was in the evening and as usual, we went out to enjoy the summery evening. At first, we would walk and then slowly walking would turn into a running race as soon as we were out of mother’s sight. I would jump and hop and run while my father would follow me everywhere I went. By the time we were back home, my side bag would be full of chocolates and I could not wait to share some with my sister.
It had been around two weeks or so in Dharan and I had a severe bowel disorder. I visited a doctor with my mother while an aunty in our neighborhood showered her love through her home remedies. Sadly, nothing worked. I was not fine at all. Everyone was perceptive about my health. Some said, “Nanu lai paani judhyo naya thau ma ayera“. While some said, “Bahira dherai khayera hola“. I was just a kid to understand what they all meant. The anxious eyes of my mother clearly depicted that she was in tension.
After three or four days, my father said, “Let’s go out on a walk. It’s been long that we have not gone and there is this new shop that sells round objects that has awesome taste. You will probably feel fine after eating this.” He was about to describe it but I was too irritated to hear people speak. So very quickly I asked him, “chocolates”? My father smiled slyly.
I did not want to go but then the ’round objects’ had caught my attention. I was still weak. Yet, I walked slowly holding his hands to see this new, round object. He took to a small shop that was painted in green. We went inside. He asked me to sit while he went to order that round object. After a while, he came with a coupon. The coupon was made of a lid of a coke which was flattened with a hammer and a number was stamped on it. After a few minutes, the waiter came and seeing the red coupon led us to another chamber.
I was incredibly surprised seeing a big bag full of those small round objects. I had never seen such thing before. I quickly went out to touch them. DAMN. They crushed. I was excited.
We went to our station and sat down. After a while, waiter dai brought 12 round objects, a plate of veggies and there was a water too. My father said, “the name of this food is gup-chup”. And then he started the demonstration. He took a round object, filled it with veggies, dipped it into the water and ate the whole round object in a single bite. “Your turn,” he said. I tried doing the same. As soon as I got that round object into my mouth, there was a burst of flavor. It was sour, very hot and spicy. The veggie was a flavored mashed potato. Oh! My favourite. I LOVED IT.
After eating six plates of ‘gup-chup’ or commonly known ‘paani-puri’ these days straight in a row, both of us realized that I was suffering from bowel disorder and mother was waiting in home cooking porridge for me. Both of us laughed at each other and decided not to tell mother. I ate the porridge late at night with father and we both went to sleep.
In the morning, I felt fresh and energized. I was perfectly fine. I went to my parent’s room to ask father if we could go out to eat ‘gup-chup’ again. To my surprise, he laid down in his bed, sick and tired with his hands around the stomach. The six plates of ‘gup-chup’ had shown some serious love to him. While he laid in bed for a week due to sickness, I patiently waited for our next visit to my favourite thing.
By Anusha Kadel
The writer is a 4th-year student of BBS at Shanker Dev Campus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org