A Grandpa tale… Or Life Lesson?


The best way to come out of a writers’ block is to (re-) start off with something not so creative, yet delivering a satiating output, so that on the response to this output one can build upon. So here I am, writing about a story that I heard from my grandfather as a child. The story isn’t particularly great, but its got hell a lot of stuff for a thoughtful brain. So here it is…

There lived an old guy in some part of India in a small village (although not in any way relevant to the story, such a start helps many people identify themselves with the good old days of grandpa and grandma tales) He had a son who went to the town everyday to work. Now this old man was very old (LOL at the sentence), and he had a wish. He asked his son to bring him betel leaves while coming back from work every day.

The first day the boy brought some extra betel leaves. The man had some and stored the rest away (in a fridge? I don’t know!). The next day when his son brought fresh betel leaves, he chewed the ones he had put away the previous day and replaced them with the fresh ones. And this routine continued. The old man continued to keep the fresh leaves safe and chew the stale ones.

Probably I used to fall asleep by this point of the story, for I fail to recollect if there is anything further in it! Never mind, my interest lies only up to this part.

As a child, this story wasn’t anything fascinating. But as I grew up, there is something I found ingrained in this story that reveals itself only to its seeker.

The ability to discard’ is a character that we Indians, in particular, lack. To throw away anything, we think twice, thrice and endless number of times only to decide to put it away for ‘some’ use in the future (this fictional purpose shows up every time we think of discarding something but never after that!).

Open the refrigerator and you can find food older than a week or eatables that got past their expiry date craving for your attention there. The best place to look for your family heritage, especially if you are living in your ancestral house, is the attic and overhead storage units that remain neglected since the time you have ever known them. You can be certain to find an old diary or photograph or sometimes much bigger elements of your ancestry there! In cities, we live in relatively small apartments with hardly three or four rooms but still manage to misplace something or the other every day. Like my mother frequently says, “Half of one’s life is spent in searching something or the other.” LOL!

And another thing with us. We associate everything around us to religion. Flowers, food, paper. You name it and I can find something religious about it! Until very recently (to be precise, until I completed graduation) it was a sin to shred paper before discarding it. I would be disrespecting Goddess Saraswathy if I did so. Throwing away food was beyond sin! Accumulating trash over trash, in the process! Health and hygiene – gone to the dogs! Don’t worry, God will take care of it. “Humbug” I’d say, if I were allowed to have an opinion on this one. But alas! That would be another symbol of my sinful irreverence.

So coming back to the old man and his betel leaves. He was a typical Indian scared of trashing eatable stuff. If God becomes angry, he may never get betel leaves again! But the truth is that even our religions teach us not to accumulate trash- physical or mental. Discard the ones that do not serve any purpose. For only if you discard the useless can you replace them with something good, something new and useful; and only then will life and lifestyle improve.If he had thrown away the stale betel leaves on one day, he could have probably chewed fresh ones for his entire lifetime.

So, Think fresh, Eat fresh, Be fresh! Make a conscious effort to never accumulate trash, in any form!

Cheers! 🙂

Image Credits: federico stevanin

14 thoughts on “A Grandpa tale… Or Life Lesson?

  1. >I can't agree more! 🙂 Books as old as class 5 or 6 can be found in the household… awaiting takers among new born cousins! 😛

  2. >There are lot of people who don't have enough food to eat in this world and so wasting food is morally wrong. you are supposed to avoid wasting food by cooking the right amount of food that u can eat. Coming to old people and their times, trend changes and now no one gives a fuck about religion or god. Religion is something that changes its rules every now and then. 1000 yrs back ppl were very religious and the powerful(good n bad minded) ppl used this to create fear in the mind of the followers and get their work done. Now as we don't give a damn abt religion, the method for causing fear among the masses has globalized. Like climate change, terrorism, and lots of other things to constantly keep ppl under control. 😉 My whole point is stop making fun of superstitions and concentrate on some other things… 😉 superstitions have died out… 😛 Only lovers believe in Parrot astrology. Let these beliefs live for a few decades with our parents and die… 😉

  3. >Superstitions have died out? Really? Tell that to the doctors, cricketers,actors and all those ppl who take up a new challenge everyday! Look at the number of threads and maalas on Sreesanth! Religion is still the hottest selling thing, at least in India. Godmen and spritual leaders everywhere around us with tens of thousands of followers! But I completely agree with you that it is time to leave superstitions behind and move on 🙂

  4. >God, I hate this about my mother!

    Anyway, sorry for the long absence and I'll keep reading, keep up the good work!

  5. >It's better to discard things that have no use left. A clutter free zone creates positive energy around and your mind thinks fresh too. I still feel odd about discarding books. Just haven't been able to do it yet!

  6. >Hi UB, Thanks for reading! Books, that we will nver use again could very well be useful to someone else than lying around in our house 🙂

  7. >Not throwing out things has nothing to do with superstition. In older generations it was a way of discouraging things that are today being touted as 'environment friendly.' Giving away things that have lost their usefulness to us is their way of encouraging charity. I have grown up reading text books of my older cousins and giving the younger children mine in turn. As for keeping stale food, in olden days it was considered unclean to eat stale food and the left overs were given at night to the beggars who roamed the street. Modern technology including the fridge, has brought in half the ills of humans.
    As for eating one day old betel leaves, the old man could have given it away not trashed it. And such behaviour is not 'religious' but individual nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *