Street school (Veedhi badi), slate (palaka) and the pencil-chalk (balapamu) are almost becoming things that belonged to a different era. Until some time back, village used to be the place where these three things existed, co-existed rather, with other things that belonged to only villages i.e., thatched huts, dusty paths, cow-dung, open baths, river-side visits, ‘cold rice’ breakfasts, oil lamps, silent nights etc.
Here, the word ‘cold rice’ needs some explanation. In the culture and food habits of people of Andhra Pradesh, there existed the word ‘Chaddi Annamu’ in their terminology. This word denotes the cooked rice that remained extra on the previous night, after all the members of the family had finished the night meal, which is stored and used for breakfast on the morning of the following day. This cooked rice is eaten with one of the many varieties of pickles kept stored in the house and curdled ghee or with curds.
In the village, mothers used to feed their school-going children with this ‘food’ in the mornings. This ‘food’ had the capacity of holding the hunger of the child until the time of mid-day meal.
The first question that will be asked by any present day school-going child is ‘How can it be eaten, won’t it get spoiled overnight?’- A legitimate question, after all! Nevertheless, the fact is that it was not getting spoiled during those days. The reason might have been the quality of rice, the method of cooking etc.
Food cooked in black-soil earthen pots, under the fire of natural firewood somehow tasted good. Rice cooked in this manner retained its freshness even the following day.
With passing time, things have changed and in the changed scenario, many habits that have been inherited have disappeared. With the disappearance of street school, slate and the pencil-chalk, the phenomenon of ‘cold rice breakfasts’ might also have disappeared.