It’s a usual work day. I come down, and start the toaster, think briefly on what to make lunch for the girls, and realize the older daughter needed a bigger lunch coz she is staying late at school. Tell myself it’s okay to give them a sandwich as they had pasta yesterday. Start off my coffee in the microwave which I shall drink till it gets cold and insipid, but that’s normal.
Zephie comes to me, so I pet her, hug her for a bit, and then let her out. I take out the green chutney for the sandwich, a tomato, and leftover pizza slice. I place the pizza slice on palate and shove it in the microwave. Get the bread out, slice tomato thin, make the sandwiches and wrap them one after another in foil.
This lunch packing is a ritual. Something Ive been doing for many many years. Two lunch bags for 6 years or so, then 3 for the last 6 years or so, and now back to 2. It’s a routine. I sometimes sleep-pack through it. It’s a set number.
- A main lunch – sandwich, pasta etc. (sometimes two)
- Drink (from outside which usually the husband brings in)
- Yogurt, Fruit, cookies/chips
It’s not something I fail at or forget one, it’s at least 4-5 different things that go into the punchbag. They all sit in neat little piles spaced separately coz each one’s varies slightly, and I don’t want to mess it up for the hungry ones. They come down and they pack, or I pack depending on where the lunch bag is. Ive been doing this for years now. It isn’t new.
I am not dreaming any of the packing up.
Today was no different. I finish sandwiches. Take out grapes, coz the daughter complained of too many apples, so I wash them in a colander, leave them to dry out a bit. Husband comes down and I ask him to bring in drinks. He has only one chocolate milk and one Capri sun, and I tell him to give the chocolate milk to the daughter and the juice pack to Munchkin. (they like it that way) He does, and he goes out to get the paper, Zephie follows him, and I am back to sipping my coffee and waiting for the pizza to toast, which I scroll on the twitter timeline. I smile at the ruckus I created with my midnight Bhel posting on instagram and go back to removing the hot pizza onto a foil. I pack the grapes in ziploc bags.
I go to the freezer and I get a Gogurt out for munchkin, place it next to her pile.
Two of each. Two cookies in wrap. Two grape bags. Two yogurts. Two sandwiches.
Her backpack is right on the chair, so I pull her lunch bag out from the front compartment. Zippered. The bag feels heavy and I frown. She hasn’t eaten her apple, and a small piece of her sandwich from yesterday is still wrapped in foil. Carefully, she brings it back home. I place the apple down, and trash the foil and place the dirty spoon in the sink. I start packing her bag, since I had it open anyway. Husband is across and he starts to get his cereal and lays his newspaper out. The girls are still upstairs.
I wipe the inside if the lunch bag out, and with a clean empty bag, I start packing. I place the sandwich in the pouch. The yogurt stands on the side, the grapes go in, and the cookies and the apple goes in too. Telling myself that I must remind her to eat it during recess so she isn’t too hungry when she comes home.
I need to use the restroom. Finally. So I do.
I come out and munchkin has her lunch bag in her hand and she and the husband look at me and ask if she can buy lunch? I say, Ive gone over this enough times, Just tell me the night before, coz then I wouldn’t pack your lunch? Also, you didn’t eat your apple, can you please rem to eat your apple at recess?
She looks blankly at me, and says, but you didn’t pack my lunch.
What do u mean? I packed your lunch.
She and her dad stare at me like I lost it. No.. There is nothing in here, see? Except cookies.
Incredulous! See, daughter’s lunch is right here, I packed all of yours! Yes, that’s the cookies I packed! Orange one for halloween!
I look at them pointedly and ask if they are pulling a prank on me. Did you just empty it off thinking its old lunch. With munchkin, it’s possible. I dart to the kitchen trash. I see what I threw out, old sandwich wrapper, and yesterday’s yogurt boxes – nothing else. So I *did* empty her lunch bag. Husband is now concerned. He brought in the juice pack, so thank God, he decides to start searching with me coz now his juice pack has walked away. He starts looking at the laundry room’s trash. Then the pantry. The refrigerator. I look and look again in her back pack. Just books, few folders. Its as clean as a whistle. the couch is on the other side. The deck door is closed. We even peek outside coz the daughter who has now walked into this panic, starts to joke. Maybe someone is sitting outside and eating away her lunch! haha.
I stare at her.
It’s baffling us. Where the hell did most of the lunch go? I know I packed it. I didn’t dream it up?
More searching. More blame game. More doubt. But within a few minutes we all come to the conclusion that none of us are playing a prank on each other, and that I did pack her lunch, at least made it, and then packed it and placed it into her backpack. Zippered it down too.
These are physical things. They don’t just disappear.
Husband asks me to get cracking and make lunch coz now we have just 15 minutes before the bus. The daughter packs her lunch nd they both eat cereal as we continue this craziness of repeatedly checking the same places again and again. A cold fear grips me. Husband also asks me if I dreamt it all. Did I have a senior moment. I am not even angry. I ask him what happened to his juice box and he calms down.
Life must go on. The dog needs to be walked. He starts moving.
I pack lunch again, with a worried look on my face. I tweet about a ghost in the house. Daughter assures me that it will be alright and she runs off, as she has to fill gas and then go to school. Munchkin is looking at me concerned. I shake out of it for her sakes, and talk about school and brush her hair and ask her to wear more layers. Its cold outside.
Zephie couldn’t have reached up. The deck door was closed. I packed it. I know the husband wouldn’t do this, not in the morning anyway. The girls were not down. Munchkin would never empty out her lunch bag. Who would open her back pack, take out the lunch bag, take out almost all of it, and then place it back in the back pack and zip it down?
So what happened to the sandwich, apple, grapes in a ziploc, and yogurt and a capri sun juice pack?
Cold fear in my heart. I am a logical person. I don’t believe in ghosts. I believe everything has a scientific logical reason. I cannot find an answer. i tweet. People reply simply. I had earlier lost 2 cutting boards. No one knows where they went. One just doesn’t lose lunch bags’ contents.
I drop munchkin at the bus stand and crack a joke “Hope hat the sandwich stays and you get to eat it!” She giggles and slides out. I come back and i remember by sister telling me stuff that happened at her friends’ place and she was upset too with a cemetry in her backyard, and so she played Vishnu Sahasranama on a loop. I had smiled back then on beliefs and how they make us strong. I am not smiling now and am instead playing Lalitha and Vishnu on loop.
I think back to my trip on Monday to Rock Creek Cemetery and wonder.
No, it can’t be. There must be a logical explanation for it. things should and must not disappear just sitting there.
It’s Halloween tomorrow. I must think of a costume for myself. I think i look scared enough without a costume.
Husband hugs me and tells me to move past. It’s okay. I nod. My brain will not let it go, coz my head tells me there should be an explanation for it. I am home alone with Zephie. A part of me wants to step out. There is so much to be done. Today was the day I would get cracking and get things done. I didn’t need this.
Anyone wants to take a crack at this?