The Lingering Taste

While having a family dinner at a restaurant, I was given enough food for thought when the steward asked at the fag end of the dinner whether we would like to have some dessert. After a sumptuous meal comprising of various courses, the dessert enjoys a pride of place without which any kind of meal may seem to be incomplete & not well organized. A dessert after the meals is like a concluding part of a grand ceremony; a stroke of finishing touch on a well painted canvas.

The word ‘dessert’ is said to have come from the French language. Also called sweet or pudding in some countries, it is sweet food typically served at the end of a meal.

A dessert at the end of a meal sweetens the mouth, thereby suppressing other tastes of dishes relished during the course of the meal. If you enjoyed the rest of the meal, a dessert would compound the effect. If you regretted opting for a particular dish, a dessert would cover up the flaw to still give you some pleasure of having taken all the trouble of filling up your belly. In many families, it is a common practice to reach out for a piece of jaggery, a bite of fruit or even a pinch of refined sugar to relish the sweet taste at the end of a customary meal.

As you turn your back on your meal, the taste sensation of the dessert lingers in your mouth. For that matter, if you decide to skip the dessert, the taste sensation of whatever you have at the end of the meal, keeps lingering in your mouth. It could be sweet; salty; sour; bitter; savory or even piquant depending on your last course. Your taste buds keep reminding you of that sensation for quite a long time after you have finished your meal.

A sensation, a feeling lingers on after having eaten something. The same is true of other activities too. In the mouth, the taste buds do the trick. But our mind & body have many other sensory receptors that perform a similar function during our activities other than eating. For example, the feeling of jubilation continues for quite a long time after having won a game, a match or an award. A pleasant sensation of elation lingers on for a long time after accomplishing a goal or successfully completing a task. A feeling of joy & satisfaction continues for some time after helping someone come out of a crisis. A feeling of pleasure keeps your whole body & mind enveloped for sometime after making some one smile & laugh out of one’s depression.

The converse is also true. A feeling of sadness persists for some time after having lost something valuable. A sense of regret hovers around if you do not measure up to your full expectations. A feeling of guilt keeps you burdened after having committed a socially unacceptable act.

On an interpersonal level, there occurs an interplay of such sensations between the interacting parties. Your lingering sensation of joy, after making someone smile, imparts a lingering feeling of happiness to that someone too. If you carry satisfaction after helping someone in distress, a reciprocal feeling of gratitude also overwhelms the other. Your gratifying feeling after being good & nice to someone, also translates into a pleasant experience for the other person. The sensation lingers on for both.

The reverse is true in such interactions too, but in an opposite manner. Your harshness towards someone not only creates a heart burning feeling for the recipient, but also keeps raising a disturbing storm somewhere deep within you. Your apathetic attitude towards the distressed, not only deprives someone of a morale boosting relief, but also keeps stirring a nagging feeling in some crevice of your mind. Your toxic outburst of anger on someone, not only spoils the day for the unfortunate one, it also keeps your emotions simmering in self- analysis for quite some time thereafter. Even if you shun compassion & cause pain or hurt someone, it may balloon up your sadistic ego for a while, but a feeling of remorse keeps haunting you in the thick core of even your indifferent heart. The ‘emotional taste’ lingers on for both.

fruitWe cannot isolate ourselves from the ‘emotional taste’ derived from the course of our actions. The ‘emotional taste’ can also be sweet; sour; bitter; savory or piquant depending on what we choose to have. To compound the effect or, at least, to erase the deficiency, why not make it customary to always order for a ‘dessert’ of sweet words & actions at the fag end of our emotional interactions with others?

Let the sweet taste linger on.

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