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The day a cucumber died

The memory of my first death is cucumber. Loud sobs emanated from my throat; my eyes and heart were dry. A relative’s old neighbour had died. I remember her face even today. I would help her up the stairs that led to the porch-like entrance; there were no railings and she would wait on every step and nudge her feet. If I was around, I’d run to assist her. I did not think I was doing something noble; I just liked running up and down stairs.

I wasn’t mourning her death because I did not know what death was. Her grand-daughter who never helped her even when she saw her from the balcony was crying. Loud sobs, dry eyes. I could not see her heart. I thought it was mandatory, to weep, so I did. We were the only female children around. For a reason I still cannot fathom, someone brought us cucumbers. She took one, I took one too.

Today I wonder whether when we eat something we kill it. Did not that cucumber too die? Or did it die when it was harvested? Or even grown? Why were its seeds put to bed if not to be taken out and later used?

Rather unusually for me, the memory of the cucumber does not make me cringe. In this terrible summer in Mumbai, I love to eat it, thick long slices. They are sold in carts where the hawker sprinkles salt and a dash of dried mango or chilli powder over it. I prefer it bland, just as it is. It may be tasteless but biting into it, its juice dripping in the mouth, has an amazingly cooling effect.

Is this about cucumbers? Is anything about anything? I ate a cucumber this afternoon. I also remembered death.

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What an interesting

What an interesting coincidnce Farzana (or perhaps not) your linking the cucumber to death. One of the most sacred prayers of the Vedic lore - after the Gayatri Mantra (invoking our intellect, the finest, subtlest evolute of Nature, to be guided in the right direction) is the Maha Mrityunajaya Mantra 

We worship and adore you, O three-eyed one, O Shiva. You are sweet gladness, the fragrance of life, who nourishes us, restores our health, and causes us to thrive. As, in due time, the stem of the cucumber weakens, and the gourd is freed from the vine, so free us from attachment and death, and do not withhold immortality."

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A coincidence, Chander?

I'd like to believe there is a deep wellspring of spiritual longing waiting to come out of this overtly non-spiritual persona!

Thank you for sahring this info. I did not know about this link between cucumber and death in Vedic lore. So, there must be some connectivity within that reached out and saw it...


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I don't think I've ever

I don't think I've ever eaten an unadulterated cucumber. But I can see why it'd be refreshing on a hot, humid day.

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You mean pesticides?

Oh, Ellen, all my efforts at profundity come to hot humid days dedicated to insects:)


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No, just a plain ol' cuke. 

No, just a plain ol' cuke.  I usually have mine on salads or otherwise doctored up with something.