“Of what use is sugar for me?”

Her Sungudi was pleated carelessly, hair in a careless bun, a toothy grin, and so many wrinkles- as if every worry she ever had was etched on her face forever. She stopped by the door to say her goodbye, before she headed home after a day of cleaning, sweeping and keeping the school clean… Just before she left, she tells me “I have 2 kgs sugar… from the ration shop… given to me for free… let me bring it tomorrow..” I almost jump into her sentence and say, “Aiyo.. no..akka.. you keep it..” She laughs, “Of what use is sugar for me- I am never rich enough to buy even a small milk packet or a tea packet. If I ever feel like having tea, I pay 5 rupees and have it at the tea shop… Every month, I sell the sugar I get for free… So let me bring it for you.. make some sweet for your baby…”
She doesn’t wait for my response… nor do I have one… I don’t know what an appropriate response could have been.. What I do know, is that the coffee in my cup and the sugar in it, will never taste the same for me, again… it is seeped with gratitude for what I have(& can choose to have), and a loss of words, to make sense of the odds stacked up against someone living 5kms away from me..the sweet and the bitter…

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