A Walk Through Memories (Part 2)

(<<< Part-1 || Part-3 >>>)

How wonderful it is that as some things change, others remain the same. This sunrise, golden through the heads of swaying coconut palms, is as picturesque as I remember it to be. The sky, blue like my daughter’s eyes, has but a few splashes of white. But I can see change on the horizon. That’s something that always stays the same, the unpredictable yet predictable weather. I imagine the clouds would stroll in soon, white at first and then turning dark. Then the showers will start, short spells of soothing summer rains.

I remember going for long walks with mom and dad in the rain. I used to run ahead suddenly, out of the cover of the umbrella either they held above me, or leaving them to catch the umbrella I let go off. I used to cop hell for that later, but it was worth it. I imagine Vidya would love doing that as well.

But Narayanan, our housekeeper, says otherwise. He says the rain won’t let up, there’s a storm coming. It might rain all day, for a couple of days at most. It puts a dampener on the vacation plans, and see it on my wife’s face too. The walk through memories may have to wait.

It’s Vidya who sees the bright side of things, as usual.

She has seen our old board behind the showcase in the living room, and is curious to know how to play it.

“Daddy, come on.Teach me Carrom,” she says, the eagerness showing in her voice. She pulls at my hand, and points to the carpet on the floor.

Soon, the three of us are playing enthusiastically. The rain has slowly increased in its force, but it’s still not heavy. After five years in Manchester, this seems but a drizzle in comparison.

The aroma of Narayanan’s wife’s cooking breaks our interest in the game. Between Aarthi and me, we start guessing what’s on the menu.

“Smells like there is hot tomato and pepper rasam,” she says, sniffing the air and closing her eyes as she enjoys the fragrance.

I agree with her. The aroma is divine, almost tempting me to get up and go into the kitchen to have a taste. But Sharada chechy has already barred us from the vicinity of her culinary castle, threatening us with stale dosas for lunch if we were to cross the border!

“Yes. I think there’ll be avial and some kootu curry too I bet,” I chipped in, mimicking her expression.

“And pappads. I can hear them being fried,” Vidya put her voice to our guessing game as well. We laughed. It was the only Indian thing she really craved. She could eat a dozen pappads if we let her to.

If these childhood favorite dishes were the ones we enjoyed the most, they were what Sharada chechy enjoyed making the most. And our return after so long, she said, had called for a celebration. So we were barred from cooking, and she had taken charge of the kitchen, humming an old Malayalam song to herself as she worked.

Soon, we heard the chimes of steel plates, and we got up to help her set the table. But she had already done it. It was like a Sadya on Vishu, the Kerala New Year. There was steaming rice, hot rasam, avial, a erisheri of beans and pumpkin, channa dal fried in coconut oil with finely diced coconuts and ginger, beans thoran, a coconut milk stew, homemade mango pickle and inji-puli, and Vidya’s favorite pappads. The only difference was the steel plates instead of the banana leaves.

On a rainy, somewhat cold afternoon, there was nothing as warm as eating rice and rasam. Every other dish was absolutely delicious, but all we wanted was that combination. After the burgers, sandwiches and pizzas of Manchester, this was heavenly. Even Vidya, who usually fussed about eating too much, was asking for a second helping of rice.

As we sat on the front steps after lunch, Chechy bought us her special parippu payasam in steel bowls. The rain didn’t feel sad anymore. And the walk through memories happened again. It brought memories of New Year feasts and Onam feasts that our childhood was filled with. It brought memories of family reunions that happened on these days mostly. It brought memories of home… this home which I proudly called my own.

I went up the staircase and to the old rooms that were bolted shut since years. Narayanan was trying to dust the cobwebs off, and looked at me sheepishly when I came up the stairs, as if to say, “My bad. I should have kept it clean over the years.”

I smiled and went toward a door he had yet to reach. I opened it and stepped inside, only to start sneezing.

(<<< Part-1 || Part-3 >>>)

Seven days, seven posts, that’s what the Write Tribe Festival of Words is about. There are seven themes for each of the seven days too. I’ve been in and out of writer’s block over the past three months. I’ve not written a story series in ages, so I thought I’d try my hand at that.
This is Part-2. The theme for Day 02 of the festival is Food.

Note: “Avial” is a dish that is common in Kerala as well as Tamil cuisine and Udupi cuisine. It is a thick mixture of vegetables, curd and coconut, seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. Avial is considered an essential part of the Sadya, the Keralian vegetarian feast. “Inji-Puli” is a side dish made from tamarind(puli) and ginger(inji). “Parippu Payasam” is sweet porridge made with coconut milk, moong dal and jaggery with dry fruits like cashew and raisins. “Rasam” is a South-Indian style soup. “Thoran” is made from finely cut vegetables like beans or unripe jackfruits, and grated cocounut, mustard seeds and spices. “Erisheri” is a spiced curry. These form part of the traditional Kerala feast called “Sadya”.

(09 Dec, 2013)

Poetry & writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

22 thoughts on “A Walk Through Memories (Part 2)”

  1. Parippu Payasam here as well.. 🙂 🙂 Now as I told Appuse.. we need to collaborate.. she chose Italian and so did I, You chose Parippu Payasam and so did I.. memories of food are the best I tell you.. and a lovely sadhya laid out.. erisherri.. lovely mix of Kerala, and Manchester, burgers and rasams, rains and the piping hot food.. beautiful culinary delight Vins.. 😀


    • Well, Manchester food didn’t play a part much Pins 😉 It was the rasam rice in the rainy weather that just makes me feel all warm and nice! 😀 Soul food as they say. Delicious. And yes, a sadya to bring out memories! Glad you liked it da. 🙂

  2. Yummm… this post just made me hungrier!!
    Food always plays such an important part in our lives na?
    We associate it with memories – good and bad.. with people in our lives…

  3. Being a Tam Brahm Palakkad Iyer myself I have had more than my fair share of sadyas in my lifetime and could completely relate to the dishes mentioned in this post more than most other readers. I could smell and see each and every one of the dishes mentioned here 😀

    Nice take on the prompt, and am truly loving this narrative. Keep it coming…

    • Yes, I guess anyone closely associated with Kerala would have had a feast or two at the least 😉 If not, the close association is a little distant, ain’t it? 😀 Glad you liked the take and my narrative, Jairam. Thanks! 🙂

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