When I was a child I loved vanilla milk. This was not some ordinary milk in a paper carton, but vanilla milk my grandmother always made, when I came to visit her in the long summer holidays. She warmed up the milk gently, because she knew that I hated the skin on top of the milk. She scraped out a vanilla pod and mixed it into the milk, she added a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of brown sugar and half a teaspoon full of lemon peel. I felt as if I owned the world with my big cup in my hands, sitting on my grandmother’s lap, sipping slowly while listening to a story my grandmother told me.
The man at the dairy counter looks quite suspicious at me. You can see him thinking that he is wondering what this strange woman wants to do with all this milk. But I just smile at him and grab six, large bags, all filled with milk. The milk is not fancy, no chocolate, not vanilla or strawberry flavor, just ordinary toned milk for 19 Rs per 500ml package.
Two hours later S., D. and I cut the milk bags open and we’re pouring the milk into 200 plastic cups. then we start to hand out the cups to the children. Most of them never tasted milk before. Some children gulp the milk down, some children first smell at the milk before they very cautiously start to drink in little sips. Some children are not quite sure what they should think about it all. Other children discuss: „How does milk taste?“ One little boy spills his milk and one minute later and to his great distress, more children come and lick the milk up as quick as little cats. All children have milk foam in their face and get a banana for breakfast.
I stand there and for a moment I am again six years old, sitting on my grandmother’s lap with my cup of vanilla milk in my hands, feeling as safe and as happy as only possible in the world. Today after so many years, while handing out cup after cup and looking into the children’s faces, having spilled milk all over me, I came as close as possible to this long gone feeling of utter joy and happiness.
I cannot help it, but I just can’t stop smiling.