So this morning we had coffee as usual followed by breakfast and then got a bit engrossed in our work, Mi. Around 12 Sury and I were pottering about in the kitchen. Vidur was bathing. As we prepped for the ven and chakra pongal, we were so busy yapping that I forgot to turn on the stove. I got things ready for the chakra pongal and thaalichufied – prepared the tadka for the kathrika vetha kozhambu (eggplant gravy) and suddenly wondered why no sound from the cooker. So hilarious. Then I turned on the stove and it got done in a jiffy.
Remember when we kept the pongal for the first time in the pressure cooker? You jokingly asked me at what point we should say pongal-o-pongal and we decided the first whistle would be ideal. I fondly thought of how we would wrap the turmeric/manjal kizhangu and its leaves around the cooker and decorate the stove with kolam and all.
Was thinking of the last pongal we spent with you in 2010 Jan. Sury had settled down in his chair next to your bed to give you a running commentary for movies and shows we watched. When you slept, he would be working with his writing pad. Vidur and I would huddle in the other bed in the room. The four of us practically lived in your room, except to pass through the living room for something or go to the kitchen for cooking.
By the way, remember our first pongal in sec’bad after we moved there in ’87? Imagine our shock when the rice did not get mashed at all in the cooker and remained separate! We could not stop laughing because that Rs.2.25 per kg ration shop rice was so good. We started buying a sack and gifting it to visiting family when they came over. There were no worries about carrying weight since almost everyone traveled by train or bus.
And on the topic of ’87 how could we not fondly remember Shnu’s antics! I remember once how, you had bought cheeselings for him and every time he came over he’d point to the dubba on the shelf. Then you hid it one day. But while making coffee you had to take out something from that shelf and this precious fellow, who was watching you, spotted the cheeselings dubba and jumped with joy, pointing at it. So cute! Such wonderful memories with that kid who has a permanent place in my heart! Now his son is growing so fast!
January also reminds me of Cheenu anna–his birthday being 9th January. I remember that year he came to live with us briefly, when Nagamma mami requested Gopmama to find him a job and settle him. Mama would get so mad at him for not pronouncing IS Johar properly. Then they would argue and Cheenu anna would just walk out. Another thing that drove mama crazy was how Cheenu anna would take off on his cycle as soon as he finished lunch even before his hands were dry! Mama would taunt him for using the cycle to cross the road.
But when finally Anna got that job and had to live in Patancheru, we were so sad when he left. I remember how fascinated I was when you made him that ready to drink coffee mix – with milk powder, sugar and coffee. There was nothing like that in the market then! You also made him ready to cook sambar – where he had to just spoon the mix into the pan and add water and bring it to a boil. I wasn’t very nice to him initially when I came to know he would be living with us. We were in that Somayajulu house and I was in the 7th std. But he literally won me over with his kindness and patience – he would call me “papa”.
How funny, no, that people – family friends and relatives simply came over and sometimes stayed for months? I loved it when Choni perima visited – we had such fun going out, playing, and chatting for hours. I was in awe of her sixth finger and believed she could hold more chozhis when we played that kaai game.
By the way, no kaakka-kuruvi kalyanam today. I am sorry, I just did not do the kanu. But I did go down memory lane remembering how we would smear the turmeric on our foreheads, then, shivering in the cold, spread the turmeric leaves we had saved for this, and serve the food on it in the terrace.
And I also remembered that miserable day in Jan 1987 when paati passed away. How shocked we were when we came home to find Kittu mama sitting by her bed on the stool with his head in his hands!
Sigh. Let me make coffee and get on with aanju-fying the methi leaves. Planning aalu methi subz and parathas today for lunch.