When I was younger I wasn’t a big fan of eating eggs. The only times I would eat one, was when I was forced to eat one with my thatha. He always had a drink in the afternoon, and his first choice for an accompanying snack was half boiled egg. When I was in the second grade someone told me that if you put a dozen eggs in an incubator, one was bound to hatch.
Since my parents refused to make another child so I wouldn’t be the youngest of their three children, I decided to hatch an egg and give the chick to my parents as their fourth child. I didn’t have the slightest idea as to how an incubator might work or where I would be able to find one, but I knew it provided warmth to the eggs, so I decided the steamer should do.
When I finally found the steamer, I noticed it smelt like Tiger Balm, but that didn’t stop me from turning it into a make shift incubator. I just told myself that my new sibling would smell nice and minty all the time and it would never have to worry about catching a cold or runny nose. After securing the steamer I conned my cousin Shyama into setting it up for by telling her my head was hurting and I wanted to do some steam therapy.
When the steamer was finally set up, I noticed that my cousin wasn’t leaving the room; She had decided to watch over me and make sure I didn’t harm myself with the boiling water. I knew I would have to work around this, so I decided to use my father’s towel—which was the biggest in the house—to cover my head while inhaling the steam. That way my cousin wouldn’t be able to see what I was doing under the towel once I draped it over myself.
Now, the only remaining obstacle was that I had to securely transport my might-be-siblings to the steamer without my cousin noticing. So I went to my room and put on a nice comfortable pair of underwear and dashed off towards the fridge. By this time my cousin was wondering where I had run off to and was calling out for me. To prevent even the slightest arousal of suspicion I shouted back in reply, “Coming ya, I’m just looking for he pudin hara; I don’t want to use Tiger Balm!”.
When I reached the refrigerator I realised I could fit only 4 eggs in my underwear. Not because they took up all the free space in my underwear but because they were extremely cold and felt like ice cubes against my skin. I ignored the chill and fit them in with matronly care, making sure none of them cracked. I couldn’t dash back to the room so I did what I had seen my favourite egg carrier do and began waddling along slowly so all the ovals in my underwear could find their comfortable positions.
I walked into the room draped in my father’s towel so my basket of eggs would be concealed from my cousin’s attention. I stood in front of the steamer and began mimicking another one of my favourite egg carriers’ behaviours and started squatting slowly like a mother chicken.
I pulled the towel over my head and quickly began removing the eggs from my underwear. I had to make sure that I didn’t squat too low before getting all the eggs out, otherwise my comfortable underwear would stretch applying pressure on the eggs and they would break, and I would still be the youngest sibling. As soon as I got all four eggs out, I removed the top half of the steamer from its bottom half and began putting them in.
Only once I reattached the top half did I remember I was eight eggs short of a dozen but before I could make an attempt to go get more eggs, I heard my mother shout “ Does anybody know where the steamer is?”. I had forgotten the reason the steamer was out was because my mother was using it for her sinuses.
I only had a few minutes before she came looking for it, so I waited for as long as I could, until my mother reached the room, and then began opening up the steamer again. Just as I got the top off, I heard my grandfather call out for my mom and thought “this is it, this is my clean escape”.
Forgetting that my cousin was still in the room, I undraped the towel with the utmost excitement because I had convinced myself that something was moving inside one of the eggs. When I looked up, I could see my cousin looking at me with a puzzled face.
I could see the anger slowly taking over her facial expression, but by the time she could say anything the sound of my mother’s footsteps started to get closer and louder. In a flash of a second, my cousin scooped up the four eggs and bolted out of the room straight into the kitchen.
My mother picked the steamer up and sighed, which led me to suspect that she discovered what I had done. Just before she left with the steamer, my mother looked at me and said, “go have boiled egg with your thatha, he’s having now”.
So I made my way to the dining room and there was my cousin, laughing and telling my grandmother, “No ma I just thought I’ll boil the eggs today, since mom is not feeling too well”. In front of them was thatha sitting on his chair, so I sat down next to him. There were three eggs cut into six halves on his plate and one egg cut into two halves on mine.
I should’ve known then itself that what was on our plates, were my tiger balm boils and not the half boils my grandad and I ate every day at lunch. When I realised what the eggs were it was too late; I watched my grandfather plop one half into his mouth and begin to chew.
I looked at my cousin with horror on my face and just as we made eye contact my grandad shouted out “absolutely splendid Shyama! The egg is perfectly half boiled and I love the minty flavour that you’ve given them; it goes perfectly well with my fresh ground pepper.
Splendid I tell you, splendid!”. We were saved but the horror on my face remained, not because I had to eat the two halves of the tiger balm boil, but because either my granddad or I, had eaten my sibling.