Sunday, September 22, 2013

The omelet that never was

Sounds like an Enid Blyton story, does it not? This story isn't quite that fluffy

Omelettes have been a big part of my childhood memories for some reason. I have written before about Susha mama teaching me to make an omelet; eggs are also part of my other childhood moments. And of course,  omelette memories of my mum predominate.

I think I first realised the magic of sharing 'special' food when my mum made me a 'sunny side up' omelet. I still remember Amma bringing her prize in from the kitchen, beaming all over,. The white was nicely set, flecked with the vivid green of finely chopped chillies and coriander; the yolk sat proudly intact in the exact centre. My younger self looked at it with superstitious awe. I could not for the life of me figure out how she did that. Today, three decades down the line, I have a fair idea of how that might be managed, but I still do not have the guts to attempt it.

Later, I began to make omelettes myself. I make them well enough, but my triumph always lay in making them the way mum liked them. And this was a moving target to aim for. Turmeric and fluffiness were the two constants. The first is now an ingrained habit; the second I learnt to achieve by beating the yolks and whites separately before folding them together. Other things varied with my mum's state of health. Her pleasure in finely chopped chillies gave way to an insistence on chilli powder, moved to large chopped chillies (all the better to pick out), and then back to the merest hint of chilli powder. Onions would be loved, or detested. But I tried; most of the time I achieved. Even when she was at her most ill it was the omelette that I could still do right, the only source of approval for my hungry self.

And today mum told me she 'never liked omelettes'.

I protested, saying that she would tell me to make them all the time. 'Yes, but because you liked them. I never did. I always wanted boiled eggs.' When I tried to protest further she became angry.

Now, I do know better. Mum always had a strong reluctance to admit that her tastes could change. This trait is a whole different discussion, but I think it centres around thinking that admitting her taste can change implies that it is not The Absolute Perfect. Far easier to deny.  Then, her memory might be failing, something that this strong woman is very disturbed about. Three, anything other than absolute assent is seen either as a threat or as insubordination in the ranks, depending on current level of vulnerability. I know all this as surely as I love her.

But knowing is one thing, accepting in my heart is another. This very trivial conversation shattered me. I am now trying to understand why. Is it for me, because it is not enough that these memories are mine, because the sharing of the memories is important? Do I question the reality of those memories, my ability to remember?

 Or is it not about the memories at all, but a terror that my sister and I are now- already- the only survivors of that little family who once lived in a rambling house in Sawantwadi?

Mum and I on the beach the three of us went to every summer. Wish my sis was in this snap too.


nadi said...

yes, you tried - always. You are the best daughter any Mother could wish for.
Yes, you achieved - You have always done a lot for Amma. And there are things which only you can do for her.
I am proud of you and love you very much.
The loss of memory, the disagreements disturb me.
I too get shattered sometimes.
But I wouldn't exchange you two, our little family, our past for any other.
yes, we are the only two survivors of that life and she the only one who made that survival possible

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