Bowl of rice
“This rice tastes bland! I can’t swallow it!”
A year ago, the farmer would get up very early each morning to work on the field. First, he had to carefully pick out the best rice seeds to make rice seedlings. When the rice seedlings were some centimeters tall, he took them to the field, separated them, grouped them and planted them in paddies with his hands. It was a back-breaking work since he had to bend down his body all day long as one description of this activity literally reads “selling your face to earth – selling your back to sky”. Rice seedlings then grew up and became rice plants. Now weeds began to appear and choke them. Worms, snakes and rats also came and damaged the crops. The farmer had to be always on the alert to protect the rice plants. He would work hard to remove weeds, spray pesticide (dangerous for his health)…. His meal time at times got disordered. When there was no rain, his family had to stay up late to irrigate the rice field. When came the time for panicles and grains, they were worried about ice rain. When the grains matured, the farmers bent their backs to cut the rice plants with sickles, packed them into sheaves, and carried them to where they would thresh to separate the grain from the stalk. Tiring job! They then stored the grains in big sacks and carried them home. At home, they would dry the grains under the sun for days. This process could take weeks if the sun was ‘on vacation’ somewhere. After this the farmer put them back in the sacks and transported them to the city where he would sell them. The rice buyer purchased his rice and brought them to the mill. Milling process is hard work. It is noisy and dusty. After many periods of hard labor, finally one saw the white beautiful rice that could be cooked. The rice seller then brought it to the market. Selling rice is a work that is involved lots of transportation and requires a great deal of patience. The rice was sitting there waiting to be purchased.
Tummy’s mother gets up very early in the morning. She has to work hard to make ends meet. Several times she has been sitting on fire upon hearing of a possibility of being laid off. Losing job would equal losing meal. Since Tummy’s birth, she has forgotten the term ‘carefree’. Today, on the way home from work, worried and tired, she only wanted to find a place to take a little nap but she couldn’t because she still had to go to the market to buy food to cook for Tummy…. Then came the cooking time. After making sure there were no grits in the rice that might cause damage to her son’s teeth, she put it in the cooker. She was a little worried about this new rice since it was normally difficult to cook well for the first time. Would it be too dry or too wet? She prayed that it turn out delicious to Tummy’s taste. Thanks to her gracious motherly hands, finally, the rice was beautifully cooked. Wiping the sweat on her forehead, putting out the food on the table, looking at it one more time with a smile, she invited everyone to the table….
This is just a short story of a bowl of white rice, not yet mentioning the story of other foods on the table such as meat, soup, sauce, eggplant, pepper, salt, chopsticks, spoon, …
Everyone takes their portion. Tummy’s mommy lovingly serves him. On the first touch of this tongue with the rice, Tummy makes the comment at the beginning of this writing.
Tummy does not know that the bowl of rice on his hands contains a lot of sweats and tears of many people, among whom is his beloved mother. But this attitude is not ‘created’ by Tummy himself since he is too young and innocent. He has learned it from the adults in the family.
There is also another similar story that happens to Jesus as follows: “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?…” (Lk 17: 11-18)
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.
in Vietnamese: https://only3minutes.wordpress.com/tieng-viet/chen-c%C6%A1m/