mom of all trades

mom of all trades

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Double digits

I remember, that I forgot to ask the kindly doctor who helped bring you safely into this world, whether you were a boy or a girl. What I did remember to do through the thick haze of pain and drowsiness, was to count your toes and fingers; brushing my finger on your unbelievably delicate skin, which looked like gossamer silk. I remember being astounded that you were so perfect, like a work of miniature art.

I remember during open day in your kindergarten, as your class mates were collecting certificates for perfectly colored pictures and handwriting,you clutched my fingers tight, mortified that you had somehow let me down and whispered, “Are you sad amma?”

I remember that I forgot the twinge of disappointment I had felt a moment ago and whispered back, “I’m proud of you. You have started to enjoy school. The handwriting and coloring can wait” .What I will never forget, is the look of sheer joy on your face as you smiled back shyly at me.

You are now entering into the ‘double digit’ age, and soon you will be leaving your child hood behind, in a series of pictures, keepsakes and beautiful memories. With each passing year, your world will expand and I must let you fight your own battles and slip away into the side lines. Like Kahlil Gibran said, I must give you all my love, but not my thoughts, for you have your own thoughts.

Like every other mother, I think about you when you are not around. I wonder what you are doing, I worry if you are safe, I hope that you are happy..every single day. My challenge is to ensure that my affection for you acts like a catalyst for your growth ,rather than curb it.

Happy tenth birthday Kanna. Welcome to the world of double digits.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

This time,there

mom's lovely garden
25/04/15; 8:00 am: My sister and I sit in the little patio in my mother’s house, which looks out to the garden, with its emerald green grass dappled with buttery golden morning sunlight, sipping tea and chatting. Ammumma my grandmother, reads us little snippets of news from the Malayalam paper, which catches her fancy. Amma pops in to ask if she should start making dosas, and it seems to me at that moment that “God is in His heaven All’s right with the world” (Pippa’s song by Robert Browing)

02/05/2015; 11:30 am: I am seated on the wide kitchen counter biting into the sweet yet slightly tart baby mangoes, which my aunt brings for us every summer, from her garden. Our cook, who has been with us for over 30 years, is peeling the mangoes to make a ‘mambazha pulissery’* while chatting with me.He stews the peeled mangoes whole, along with a couple of slit green chillies, a pinch of turmeric which clings to his skin like gold dust and some salt. He then adds a silky paste of freshly grated coconut and some earthy cumin seeds, brings it to a boil and takes it off the heat. Then comes a splash of some whipped homemade yogurt.
 He deftly heats   up some coconut oil and splutters mustard seeds some dried red chillies and fresh curry leaves from the garden which he pours on top of the curry. I close my eyes and inhale the fragrance which permeates the kitchen as the spice infused oil hits the tangy sweet sauce and completely agree with Harriet Van Horne who said "Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."    

15/0515; 5:00 pm: My son and nephew are engrossed in a game of cricket with their grandparents. You can hear their excited shouts all the way down the street. Someone hits a ‘sixer’ and the ball is tossed out of the compound onto the main street. A lady on the street, whose head the ball missed by a few inches, politely asks my dad if he should really be playing cricket at his age. Amma meanwhile is busy pretending to field, while trying to photograph the boys, who seem to defy gravity, as well as their their mothers'. 

Ammumma is trying to coax the tulsi plant not to wither away with water and words in equal measure. I stand apart, etching this scene into my memory, forcing my brain to take in every detail, the neon green cricket ball, the tinkle of ammuma’s bangles as she waters her plants, the look of love glazed with a tinge of pride in achan’s  eyes, when one of the boys bowls well, and I want this evening never to end.

20/052015; 9:30 pm: We are all in the bedroom, our little sanctuary from the unrelenting summer heat. The room is cool with a bed big enough for 5 people to lie down quite comfortably. My sister and I are getting our daily soap fix with big bowls of amma’s tender coconut pudding. Ammumma is on one corner of the bed, her fingers busy combing out my sisters hair. The boys are huddled together in another corner of the bed with my father enthralling them with one of his hugely popular stories and amma is blissfully asleep, curled up like a kitten. I look around the room and realize  that this is one of those rare moments where I am, exactly where I want to be.

“What would we have been doing there, at this time amma?” asks my son tears threatening to well up in his eyes, barely a day after we have returned from my mother’s place. I hold him close and whisper “we would have been creating memories, one second at a time.”  

*mambazha pulissery: