The saga of the elusive sarson sag

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

While buying guavas from my usual fruit vendor, my eyes scanned the piles of fresh greens displayed attractively on the footpath by an adjacent vendor. Hoping to finally catch a glimpse of the very elusive sarson sag, I once again asked him, hesitatingly, “hope you have finally found sarson sag for me?”

“No, Amma, I have told you time and again that no one buys this sag here. Why don’t you take other fresh greens like methi, palak or sui?” he asked. 

Having originally come from the North of India, I pined for my and favourite meal of sarson sag with makki ki roti topped with dollops of white butter. Winter months would come and go, and I would consider myself fortunate if I got to relish this delicacy even once or twice during the season, curtsey some thoughtful visitors from the North.

Over the years, I had become a regular customer of a guava vendor. His guavas were not only luscious, fresh and sweet, but his simple, eager to please demeanour ensured repeated visits by his customers. One day, as I drove past him in a hurry, I saw him frantically waving to me.

He had pulled out a big plastic bag from the corner of his guava basket, as I reached him. Peeping inside, my face lit up on seeing fresh, green and juicy bundles of sarson sag, quite in contrast to the stale and shrivelled variety one would find at an occasional shop. “Where on earth did you find this treasure?” I asked him excitedly still reeling in utter disbelief.

Thanking him profusely, I offered him a generous sum of money, which he politely refused, replying sheepishly, with a broad grin across his face “No, Amma, this is a small gift from me. I found the sag growing in a new farm that I visited early this morning to pluck guavas.

As soon as I saw it, I thought of you, and your futile attempts with my neighbour in procuring this vegetable.”

As I sat in the car, clutching the precious bag of sag, my heart was filled with a mix of emotions —joy, surprise and a deep sense of gratitude at the thoughtfulness displayed towards me by a complete stranger. 

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