What’s Missing in The Payasam?

Janmashtami, Krishna Jayanthi.

Aryan woke up that morning with a bright smile. The smell of the mouth-watering dishes tickled his nose and made his stomach grumble. But he knew he had to sit through the hour long puja to reach the ultimate motive of an over-satisfied stomach. His mother, Vasuki, was already dressed and balancing the under-pressure-high-tension task of preparing the jalebis and making sure the rice is not over-cooked. All this added to the festivity.

The Kalluri’s are a hardworking, middle-class South Indian family. Simple in life and generous while sharing. Avinash Kalluri, Aryan’s father, tragically passed away in a road accident. The onus was now on Vasuki to make Aryan into a man, or at least that’s what society expected.

Let’s get back to Janmashtami shall we?

It was the hour of the puja, Aryan was dressed in the finest dhoti, much to his content — he kept tripping over his own dhoti which frustrated the young chap and remember his grumbling tummy? Well, it was still very much grumbling! As soon as his mother got up to give the much awaited aarti, his face exploded with a big smile, the puja was about to end!

Soon after the aarti, he quickly changed into the comfortable attire of an old pair of shorts and a faded t-shirt and sat at the table. The now tired and exhausted Vasuki served her son a piping hot bowl of semia payasam, his favourite. After completing the laborious task of blowing cool air on the payasam, he took a sip. The warm and sweet milk went down his throat and the crunchy almonds gave a salty after taste. But something was missing. He took another sip, and another. Something was missing! He mixed the bowl of payasam furiously and took a sip, still something was missing! He looked like a Ph.D student who was frantically trying to find the error in his research which seems to be logically correct!

He looked at his mother and was just about to snap a question on what happened to his beloved old payasam, but as soon as he looked at her he realised what was missing. A gush of warm breeze went over his face and his expression drained out of his face. Vasuki was just sitting, looking at the photo on wall of her Avinash. The raw emotion of sadness, depression and the feeling of his absence was written all over her face.

Aryan knew what was missing in the payasam. A complete family…