Chicken Soup

Having a home in the foothills of a mountain is a dream of many. I was living that dream, everyday. My mornings started with listening to birds chirping and the rumbling of the clouds on a dark rainy day. It just felt like I was watching all the Ruskin Bond stories I had read since childhood unfold in front of my eyes.

It’s not like people living on hills, don’t enjoy life. They get to enjoy it because they don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic or what will the boss say if you reach late to work. It’s a simple life. Sam loved this life. On days when I felt lonely here, he used to say,

“What is there in the city, traffic, pollution, corruption and a whole lot of stress? People living for each other and not getting to enjoy their life. What is the point of living such lives?”

These words stayed with me for long. I craved to go to the city somedays and then thought about how much grief it has brought to my friends. I embraced this life slowly.

Things changed when Sam started having issues with his health. He started falling sick more often. There were no good doctors in the mountains. One day we had to rush him to the nearest town which was 110 miles away. It took us more than a hour to reach the hospital. He was in the hospital for a good two weeks. The doctors were not able to figure out what exactly was wrong with him. When they did they said he has a rare lung condition, where if he starts breathing in a certain kind of pollen in the air, his heart starts palpitating and he goes into a state of coma. We were all shocked but I stood strong with him. I knew if I become weak he will not be able to get out of it. I looked after him day and night. My mother came to help with the kids. She was taking care of them while I took care of Sam.

Sam was kept on a high protein diet after those two weeks. Which meant a lot of chicken and fish for him. He loved the chicken soup, I made for him. But during this phase he saw me struggling through it all. My withered clothes and undone hair and chapped lips. One day while having his chicken soup, he said

“Rumi, I think we better move to the city. The hospitals are close by and also there will be more help there. We can keep a maid to look after the house and you can concentrate more on yourself and kids. We will get more time for ourselves.”

” Seriously Sam? Do you think things will get better after moving to the city? Weren’t you the one who told me that people are always stressed in the city?”

“I know I did but we will have more help. It will be easier for you. I dread seeing you so stressed here. It’s too much for you to handle everything here, alone.”

Deep down , I was glad that he noticed, I was struggling everyday. He knew that I was not good at multitasking. He understood me. He could feel my pain even though he himself was in pain.

That is how we moved to the city and it was exactly like what Sam had said. The pollution, the traffic, the noise and the stress. Everything was just too much to take in. He started falling more sick once we moved there. He found his comfort in the chicken soup I made for him. And I found my comfort in going to the beauty parlor near my home to get my nails done. Because after a really long time, I was doing something for myself and I didn’t feel guilty about it. I took it as a reward for myself. But it all felt superficial after a couple of months. I started craving the mountain life. The smell of the wet grass, the fallen leaves of the apple trees and the sound of the wind chimes in the front yard. I belonged there and not in the city.

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