Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back home. Sort of

I am back, in our bone-white bedroom with the pink furnishings. For the rest of the week at least, I will be busy enough cleaning the house and setting it to rights. But no matter, I've had a bath and I've brewed coffee, and all is right with the world.

Not quite. I miss my mum and sis. And my phone mysteriously died even as I plugged it in and rejoiced at the dial tone. So I wont be chatting online with Mian today- which is really, really sad. And I have not brought back half enough gifties for all the people I will meet..

Overriding everything though, is my missing of mum and sis. My niece shouldn't bridle, because I miss her too, but what I am referring to here is a specific missing of the family of my childhood. Partly, it's the weather. The summer-monsoon period is where all my happy childhood memories are. My sis would be home for the study prep- when we would study all day and mum would take us off to a picnic in the evening. In the holidays we would run pretty wild. It was a small town in a safer time, and I would be out either in the garden or in the woods all day long. Later, when summer turned to monsoon, the new year truly began with school and all the associated excitement.

Monsoons along the coast create plenty of stories. We had a super-tall television aerial to 'catch' the broadcast all the way from Panaji. It was like a mast, and in every storm it fancied it had sails. The wind would catch it and rotate it so that it was no longer aligned correctly. If a favourite program was going to be aired, my sis and I would go up to the attic to rotate it again. This meant the untying of it, which meant the removal of the plastic around it, which meant that we would be standing in the rain grappling with a huge, huge, metal pole that was fighting for liberty while my mum would watch the TV and give us directions from below. And always, always, some part of the house or the other would be was a 100 year old earth and wood structure, what do you expect? We loved it.

Monsoons were warmth, too. I would walk or cycle back from school and invariably get soaked. But coming home in a storm was lovely, because I knew exactly what I was coming home to. I would lug my cycle up to the verandah, walk up the dark wood staircase, and enter the kitchen. Amma would be standing there at the gas heating a wad of cloth on a tava. This she would proceed to apply to my head and -after an unceremonious stripping- to my back and chest. I squealed my way through the entire process, but it was a good thing to come home to.

And another good thing was Amma's ovachi amti. A wonderfully warming and tasty curry made of some seeds I can't remember. It's so warming that over-indulgence leads to skin breakouts, but that didn't prevent my sis and me from clamouring for it every cloudy day. I am shocked at myself for not knowing the recipe, but I will ask her today, and I will learn to make it.

But will it matter? Even if I learn the curry, even if I manage to make our home smell like the monsoon of my childhood, it still wont be the same. I want the whole package. I want my sis and I sitting at the table and waiting for mum to come with the curry. I want the three of us to sit and eat it together with mounds of red rice while it thunders outside and we worry about how our plants are faring and whether the jackfruit tree will lose a branch yet again. I want that even if for a little while. And now I've made myself cry.


Unmana said...

May I offer a virtual hug?

And you write beautifully, you know. You should make a living out of it.

chicu said...

virtual hugs are always welcome, Unmana. Compliments make me blush,though..=)

Unmana said...

I mean it. I rarely read the kind of beauty you evoke in your writing.

twoin1shot said...

I too agree with everything Unmana said right down to the virtual hug!

Your writing is as beautiful as your smile and that all comes from your beautiful heart.

I (we) miss you and wish our time together could have been more. Until we see each other again your writings will give us comfort in knowing you are safe in your travels.

Grumpy Granny said...

Since I've been missing my mother these last weeks, this post really moved me. I had a very nomadic childhood, so don't have similar memories of "place". Despite how much you miss it now, take comfort in how lucky you are to have had a place and the people who gave you such wonderful memories.

You are a wonderful writer and I, too, offer another virtual hug.



Parineeta said...

so true, so beautiful ... like someone said.."How far away we come from ourselves..we can never go back home again"

kavita said...

Ditto.. and welcome back.. home

Anonymous said...

if the other Uttarakhandied do not mind, i would like to write a personal comment here-

I am proud of you, Chicu.
Thank you for being my sister.
I love you.


Ellie said...

You conjured up memories of a childhood continents away from yours, but with a similar something. x

chicu said...

thank you so much for the virtual hugs, everyone. And apparently all those good vibes worked- my mum comes for a visit in August!

and twoin1shot: I needed Mian's help to figure out the name, and now can't stop smiling..miss you too

Anonymous said...

Today I had the oppurtunity to read this. Now that you two have gone, I do not feel like making ova curry. I too miss those days.

The Guy Next Door said...

You touch the heart with your words - Fabulous. The mention of Panaji and rains together brings such a beautiful visual in my mind - I can almost smell it.

Keep them coming please !!!

~*~Patty S said...

Hello from Ana's Archive Dive...reading your post takes me to far off lands...thank you for sharing such precious memories!

ana @ i made it so said...

i enjoyed reading this, and like patty's sentiment, it took me to far off lands. isn't it amazing how connected we are to our memories through the smell of food and the feeling of the air around us? thank you for sharing your memories of home. wonderfully written.