“Dinner is ready,” the mother shouts from the kitchen.
It is seven in the evening and dusk has turned to night. The eldest daughter is in the kitchen to help set the dinner on the floor.
An old school uniform kira on the soot-coloured floor is set as the dining table where food and tea is kept. The man of the house leaves the television remote, kids leave their books and granny comes holding her prayer beats.
The first serving is for the gods and for them to bless the family for the food they have provided. Then, the granny gets her serving followed by the father, kids then the mother serves for herself.
Every night the same ritual would be followed and conversations like the father complaining about his boss in the office and the children sharing incidents of school and granny lost in the midst of all gibberish enjoys her meal.
It is impossible for the family to have breakfast and lunch together in weekdays. Children had to get ready for school, father for the office and the only person left would be the mother and granny to share their meal.
The mother cleaning up after them would wait for the clock to strike five, so that the house would be once again filled with complaints and noise.
It just took as long as the Thimphu-Paro highway to get completed for the family to lose its togetherness and the importance of sharing a meal together. The kids grow faster than the rising constructions around them. They start earning. The father gets caught in trying to balance the family and business. The home maker and granny appreciates changes but when they are alone share about the joyful meals with the whole family together.
There used to be a time when the mother could pull her kids’ ears and gather them around the food. Now she is left powerless. She prepares the meal but there is no one at home even after five in the evening.
The father is busy going through the foreign direct investment guidelines or either busy on the phone trying to seal a deal.
On the other side the kids are too busy with friends’ birthday parties or office dinners.
But, who would notice it and even bother to talk about it because everyone wants to make more and more money. They want to catch up with the fast paced life.
The stove in the kitchen is left cold, untouched and there in no aroma of freshly prepared food. The granny is left on her own to feast on left overs or restaurant momos.
Oh! Who cares about the dinner that was once so special? Finally everyone in the family agrees to meet on auspicious days. The days to eat, pray and love.
The old uniform ‘dining table’ is still in a corner waiting for day when the family returns corner waiting for the day the family returns to the kitchen to savour a meal.