One of the things I enjoy most during trips to my parents' house, is the opportunity to ask exciting questions like “What are we having for breakfast today?” “Is that masala being prepared for tonight’s chicken curry?” or answer contentedly, “Yes, pooris will do very well for dinner” “No, I can’t have another helping; that was one of the best biriyanis I have had in a long time”
After weeks of menu planning, lunch boxes and weekend specials, the idea of being blissfully ignorant about meal menus, seems strangely liberating.
Watching my mother cook food, gives me as much pleasure as eating what she has made. The way her hands move fluidly, spreading the dosa batter in concentric circles, the way she drizzles ghee around the edges; not like a cook but like a mother.
The way she deftly flips the crisp, paper thin dosas with edges like gold filigree on to my plate, fills me with a childlike glee.
Most times, on the second not later than the third day of my visit, my mother makes ‘moussaka’, that quintessentially Greek dish, with layers of fried potatoes, aubergines and delicately spiced succulent minced meat, doused in a creamy béchamel sauce and topped with cheese. She bakes it till it forms a golden brown crust and the whole kitchen gets filled with aromas, that makes you want to bottle it up and save it. After that, she scoops out a large portion of the dish onto my plate, not waiting for it to cool down as is traditionally done; exactly like a mother.
It’s the early hours of morning; my eyes are heavy with sleep and my heart is heavy with a deep sorrow, which comes from having to leave earlier than planned and knowing that it would be months again, before I come back to my parent’s home. I sit at the kitchen table, with my fingers wrapped around a steaming mug of tea and watch my sister wrap a loaf of banana bread that she baked at dawn, for her nephew. Her fingers move delicately, peeling off the parchment in one deft stroke. She wraps it up neatly, making sure there is enough for him to carry to school too; not like an aunt, but like a mother.
I wish at that moment, she could see herself through my eyes.
How lovely it would be, if we could see ourselves once in a while, not like an unrelenting critic, but like a mother.