A Date with Ekadasi Vradham(Fast) It was not even eight O’Clock - my goodness! so early, I have voracious appetite. I shouldn’t have woken up so early and showered so soon. It has always been there - the moment I finish with bath, I do get huge appetite. Now I think I can eat a horse.(sic) My stomach is making a hue & cry. “Ennanga?- Why don’t you have a small doze of coffee?” spouse Raji was suggesting from kitchen in a tone that was neither rude nor soft. “If only I had wished, I would on my own have prepared coffee- the moment I got up from bed. With great effort since early morning, I am resisting temptation in order to observe the Ekadasi fast to-day. Why should you at all tempt me with this coffee?” I reacted in exasperation. “Who wished you should observe Ekadasi Vradham?” I heard Raji’s distant whimper. Ah! All these ordeals are due to that seemingly innocuous free WhatsApp forward. The message proclaimed huge benefits of observing Ekadasi Vradham and posted curated findings of a detailed research undertaken by leading well-known American Research Organisation. The research institute claimed that those who faithfully observe Ekadasi Vradham(fast) would seldom suffer from severe or minor ailments even in their old age and free from any health issues that are normally associated with senility; and they continue to enjoy robust health & remain agile. The moment I finished reading this message, I vowed to myself that I would begin observing Ekadasi Vradham (fast). I checked up with snake almanac. The message received on Friday: next day Saturday was Ekadasi. It was office holiday. So I decided to observe fast next day itself. Normally on holidays, I never get rid of bed until it is 8 or after but that Saturday, I got up early and finished morning chores including bath before 6. Raji was tossing the foaming sandal-colour-hot-coffee from davra to tumbler; it’s flavour was permeating and wafting into the hall. I controlled my temptation with lots of discomfort. I declined when Raji offered & she insisted to have it: whence she softly said, “There is absolutely nothing wrong if you have coffee during fast”. Now at eight O’Clock, she is once again tempting me to have it. Around 9 O’Clock, I informed Raji that am going to go to a nearby shrine. As I was sauntering on sidewalk through numerous tea-stalls and restaurants, I enjoyed inhaling varieties of aroma emanating from fast frying onion & simmering masala, kurma & sambar.. It boosted up hunger. As I entered into the shrine, a thought crossed my mind. If any prasad is distributed, I can eat it within shrine and this would not come in anyway to diminish the sanctity of my Ekadasi fast. But then, it occurred that in shrines on Ekadasi day, no items of food would be offered to the Lord. So my hope of eating the prasad in lieu of regular lunch got dashed. I felt almost enervated. I got a whim. I just entered into a hotel. Ordered for coffee. The bearer in uniform, in endearing tone with mild smile said, “Sir, Idli-Vada-Pongal all are available hot”. I told him curtly, “fetch me just one coffee only and nothing else”. I mused “Just by having one coffee at hotel, would not in anyway diminish the fasting protocols. Now, to demand coffee at home, it would be embarrassing in front of Raji. So it is ok to let me have coffee here”. Around 11 O’Clock my office colleague Ram called on. My spouse brought hot coffee in single davra - tumbler set and placed it before him. Ram asked me “T - shall we share it?” Immediately my spouse interjected looking tad sharp at me, “should I bring for you too?” As force of habit, I nodded my head vertically up and down and was thinking of coffee that I had at the hotel a while ago but convinced myself that one more is not going to mar the quality of my fasting in any way! It was One O’Clock. Spouse set the table with fine display of regular lunch items stored upto brim in shining stainless steel vessels. She occupied one of the chairs and about to begin her lunch. Looking at me with compassion, she asked me, “ennaga? -would you like to join me for lunch?” “But I suppose you had cooked food for you only?” I enquired hesitantly. “How can you presume like that? Is it ever possible to cook only just sufficient for one person? Whatever I prepared would be sumptuous for both. Come on. I shall bring your silver elliptical plate” “But you already know that I am on fast!” I said with exasperation. “As far as I know, people observing Ekadasi fast would have food once during the day. You too can simply have food now and go on complete fast during night”. Raji responded. While I was having terrible appetite, I hurriedly said “then OK as you wish”. Today being first time, I will observe this Ekadasi fast with daytime lunch and once it comes into practise, I may not be ill at ease to go on for full day fast skipping altogether lunch and dinner in future Ekadasi-s. “Since you are going on full fast during entire night, I would suggest be generous now: eat as much as you can. I have prepared more food. You don’t need to worry that there may not be enough for me” said Raji in honeyed tone. While eating I couldn’t help wondering in the heart of heart, how she could be so eternally patient, guarding and guiding me. I could see in her doe-eye, the satisfaction of watching me eating as usual with heaps of white rice mixed with Vattha-Kuzhambu followed by pepper rasam and then the thick curds with buttermilk & lemon pickle too for touch. Then it was siesta time but am not supposed to have nap on the day of fasting. But with heavy lunch, I had to fight with myself to overcome the dizziness. It was time for afternoon coffee. Raji said, “ Look - you are going to fast night only. So let me prepare coffee for both of us. It is ok you know “. I just kept mum. After a while, tossing the hot coffee from davara to tumbler she came in front asking, “Do you like to have some biscuit?” I thought she was kidding me. With a wry face, I answered her,”No”. It was evening. She had gone to vegetable market. Despite heavy lunch, I felt all digested so soon and begin to get fresh hunger. I cursed my fast metabolism. Then, it crossed my mind of her asking me whether I needed some biscuits. I rummaged the tins in shelves and found three varieties of biscuits. I took two in each variety. There were, by biscuit tins - few small packets of mixture & masala pea nuts. I took two packets each variety. Surfing the TV, I enjoyed the munching and emptied the packets. When returned from market by six O’Clock, she informed me, “for night, I have got innocuous ripe banana for you. You need not go to bed on an empty stomach. No harm to your fast by taking just few bananas & milk”. Then she proceeded to unpack the bags and displayed on dinning table the items purchased from market. From that display, she picked up one packet showing it to me, said ”Look. This is from boli-stall. Hot bajji. Have it sampled”. Fast is only by night. Time is not yet seven. Therefore, I had in few bites finished entire bajji. It was quite warm and tasty. “You got banana for me. Give it now. Let me have it right away. Night I do not want to eat anything”. I told her in a firm tone. She gave me bananas; after eating those two large bananas, I felt stomach-full indeed. At 8 O’Clock, I heard her asking me “ennaga?- shall I give you now a glass of milk?” I said in excited voice, “yes-honey”. But strangely it was too soon that I felt hungry. “Before milk, do you wish to have little uppuma?” “Have you made it already?” “For me, I am going to make it. If you want, I can make it for us”. When she uttered the word “uppma” that moment itself it was mouth-watering. I said briskly, “OK-OK”. A while later, I took hot uppma and then warm milk. As I lay on the bed , I felt heavy. Certainly, I had excess food on account of trying to observe Ekadasi fast. I could not get even forty winks. I concluded that Ekadasi fasting certainly is not my cup of tea .