an ODE to the Indian home
Winters remind me of a silly place called HOME!
My mother would wake me up at 6 in the morning, saying, “you have slept too much, already.”
She would keep on calling my name until the time I threw my blankets, washed my face, and got myself a warm glass of lemon water.
Then, I would go upstairs, sit next to her on one of those old yet sturdy Nilkamal chairs, and gossip about what’s happening in the neighborhood, and which auntie is fighting whom.
As soon as the clock strikes 7, she starts fidgeting in her chair, losing interest in everything that had her glued to our conversation until now.
Hereafter, every word I say falls on deaf ears.
It’s then she tilts her head to one side, and inquires in a well-practiced honey in a warm milk voice, “can you make me a cup of tea?”
If there is something more difficult than waking up at 6 am on a Sunday morning, it’s making a cup of tea at 7.
I give her a hundred reasons why drinking tea empty stomach isn’t good for her health. But no amount of convincing can keep her away from the dear potion called TEA.
“That is the only thing I love”, she complains, “who will make it for me after you have left for your big city? I make it myself all the time. Now that you are here for some days, I just want to relax and drink tea.”
She has me on that leaving card! I am suddenly guilty!
I decide to be a good girl for as long as I am home. So, I go downstairs, into the kitchen, and start crushing some ginger and cardamom for the very important tea drinking ceremony.
7 am doesn’t mean you can get away with serving boiled water in the name of tea. After all, most Indian houses run on only one rule: the tea has to be perfect at any given time.
While I am in the kitchen, struggling with the cups, I hear my father shout from the drawing room, “can I get some coffee too”
Now understand this: When my father asks you for a favor, he isn’t really asking. He is just informing you, in the politest way possible, what needs to be done, and done real quickly.
He has been in the Paramilitary. Officers: they don’t understand no!
But that shouldn’t make you conclude that he is heartless in any way.
In fact, at home, we share a very personal joke among ourselves, which my father detest, yet, we believe to be absolutely true: my dad, he has the heart of a woman!
Anyway, helpless, I go back to making tea, and the coffee.
Two cups of coffee. One cup each for dad and me.
Whenever my mother sees us choose the same items from a food menu, she can’t help quipping, “Like father like daughter.”
Anyway, I take the cups to the terrace, where my father joins us with 3 big apples and a knife in his hand.
I don’t like apples. But as I told you just now, there is no point denying my father anything that he gives you for your own well being.
He doesn’t take any of that shit!
So, just the 3 of us sit on the terrace, sipping tea and coffee, and eating apples from a common plate.
With them is the best time of my life. It will be Diwali soon. But I am missing home already.