Unbearable

A Short Story

Gita wheezed again. It was December and the asthma had come back, like it did every year.

“Did you eat fried food? You know you are allergic to palm oil,” her mother said.

“I didn’t,” Gita swore. “It’s the pollen.”

The inhaler didn’t work on her and she had to be taken to the hospital. An intravenous injection made her feel better.

“How old are you?” the doctor asked her.

“Twelve,” Gita answered.

“White cells are too low in your blood,” he said, looking at the report. “You are anemic. You must include eggs in your diet,” he said.

Her mother looked worried. Gita knew it was the eggs that worried her mother. No one in their Hindu family had ever eaten eggs, none in their old lineage.

“We are vegetarians,” her mother said. “You get better and we will see.”

Gita came home after three days. Her hands shook in weakness, drugged with antibiotics. The worried look on her mother’s face had stayed. Her mother wanted Gita to get stronger and healthier. The problem was cooking eggs, the smell of it and the animal in it. Gita remembered how her mother had vomited once to the smell of cooked eggs in a restaurant.

Her mother came up with a plan – she would buy Gita a stove, a cooking pan and a plate. Gita would cook eggs in the garage and eat it there.

“Never,” Gita protested. “No teenager would do that.”

Her mother had no other plans, except wait for Gita to grow up, have her own kitchen where she could cook eggs and eat them to fight her asthma.

After ten years, Gita had her own kitchen where she cooked eggs. The asthma didn’t come back. Neither did her mother, agonizing over the smell of cooked eggs.

 

(Longlisted Writing Contest from Brilliant Flash Fiction – Feed Us 2019 )

Copyright © Anu Kay 2022