Of Tales Too Tiny

‘Mumma?’ he called.

The old woman in her worn out dress and wrinkled face, turned away from the sink to look at her little son lying on the couch, staring up at the ceiling fan. Rust had settled on its corners and the slight squeaks it caused, made her cringe in distaste.

‘Yes child,’ she said as she wiped off her hands on her apron and walked to him. Dropping down on the couch, she allowed him to rest his head on her lap.

Her heart broke as she held his feeble hands and rubbed them gently.

When he did not speak, she asked again.

‘Yes?’

His eyes met hers and all they reflected was nothingness. Her son’s eyes were blank; they held no trace of emotion and she did not know whether to be happy or sad for that.

‘Mumma,’ he mumbled. His voice shook. ‘Does God love me any less?’

Almost immediately, she shook her head and looked away, blinking back her tears. The last thing she wanted to do was to cry in front of her dying son. His body felt so fragile against hers that she was afraid a slight touch would hurt him.

‘No, child, our God is beautiful,’ she told him. ‘He loves us all the same. We are all his lovely children and He loves us to death.

‘Then why does he let other children run and jump and shout while I lie here all day?’

It was difficult to swallow the lump stuck in her throat. Her temples throbbed as unwept tears threatened to spill.

‘It is because He has something special for you! He wants you to wait so that He can shower you with all the happiness in the world. He loves you, dear child, more than you can imagine,’ she aid and ran a hand through his hair. ‘Up there, He sits, watching over all of us. He picks us up when we fall. And when we cry, He is there to wipe away our tears. Each day, He presents us the most beautiful dawns to create histories. See? He is here with us. He is all around, child. And He loves you. So please, hold on.’

The doorbell rang, filling the house with a lovely tune.

She looked down at her son who was breathing quietly. His eyes were closed in blissful oblivion. She got up and opened the door.

The mailman handed her a letter.

After he took his leave, she closed the door behind her and tore open the pale yellow envelope to reveal her son’s medical reports. Her eyes glimmered with several hundred emotions as she looked frantically at the sheets.

And then, she saw it.

‘Wake up, child,’ she said as tears rolled down her cheeks. ‘Wake up! You’ll live, child! You’ll live for long!’

He remained quiet.

Of Cooking For Dad

I’ll shamelessly confess that I don’t know how to cook.

Some people have at least the basic idea of cooking, but sadly, I have none.

The only thing I mange to cook with perfection is Maggi and yes, I do know how to make coffee (wouldn’t that be a serious travesty of logic if the person with a blog named “A Caffeinated Blog” doesn’t know how to make coffee!). But that is it. I can roll a dough but I make amoeboid shapes! Children love them, but sadly, Mom dumps them into the batter again and makes a fresh batch. Often, I question why does a roti (flatbread) or naan needs to have a round shape? It is pretty illogical, right? Why can’t we have square-shaped rotis and round slices of bread?

Now, I have a brother who is eternally hungry!

So the day Mom happened to call me up and tell me that they’d be late, my brother took it as an evil opportunity to force me into the kitchen and make him some food. He knows that I have zero cooking skills and I’m pretty sure it was a sick, little plan of his mischievous brain, but at the same time, I was bored and I really wanted to do something new!

So, I decided to cook!

(Yes, I can already see you clapping in appreciation. Why, thank you!)

Here, in my part of the world, we have dosas, which are basically pancakes made from rice flour and ground pulses, typically served with a spiced vegetable filling. Mom had the batter ready, resting in the fridge and I knew that all it took to make the dish was to pour some oil into a pan, pour the batter and somehow make a round shape out of it.

I had seen Mom making those numerous times and I was pretty sure it wasn’t such a tough job.

So, I did the same, that is – poured some oil into the pan, poured the batter and spread it with a spoon to make a remotely round shape.

Though I really hadn’t thought it would work, what happened two minutes later, surprised me.

I managed to make a picture perfect, delicious dosa!

Just when I had managed to lift it up from the pan and rest it on a plate, the doorbell rang and from the living room, my brother informed me that Mom and Dad had arrived.

See, now it happens that some times we are too shy. Sometimes, we are apprehensive while sharing some things with our parents and I believe that it is natural. So when Dad walked into the kitchen and asked me what I was up to, I really didn’t know how to tell him that I just cooked something. It was awkward.

“What are you doing in the kitchen?” Mom joined, hurriedly walking into the kitchen wondering if I had burnt something.

“Mom!” I cried when she spun me around to check if I was all right. This was getting too dramatic.

By then, Dad had pulled the plate from behind me and was already taking a bite of the dosa.

I kept my gaze low, waiting to hear what he had to say.

“You made this?” he asked.

Slowly, I nodded.

“This is so good! I can’t believe you made this,” he declared. “This is better than what your mom makes!”

“I prepared the batter!” Mom retorted.

“But she cooked it so beautifully!”

And when I had least expected it, he pulled me close into a small hug.

“My daughter has grown up so much!”

I had a tingling feeling at the pit of my stomach. My heart swelled with pride and it was almost a foreign feeling for I had never been so much happy. I hadn’t been looking forward to Dad praising me for what I made because I had presumed it would be bad, owing to my history of zero cooking skills, but no, it was great and Dad loved it! What could be a greater happiness than that?

True, little things can bring someone immense joy.

That night, as I sat at my desk, clicking a pen rapidly, thinking about what to write, the only thing that struck my mind was how Dad had praised me that evening. It was that giddy little feeling, tugging at the corners of my lips and I kept on breaking into small smiles. Every step I took felt like strokes in air. Every breath I took seemed so effortless.

The entire you-have-grown-up-so-much gave me an immense pleasure.

True, I had grown up from the nervous little kid who never tried anything new to an eighteen year old amateur cook!

Tears pricked the corners of my eyes. Happy tears they were. If Dad would’ve asked me to cook him anything else, I’d have gladly rushed into the kitchen and gave it a try, never mind those zero cooking skills.

That night, I learned the most important lesson of cooking – the first ingredient is love.

So, as I write this, I bite into the most delicious chocolate ice-cream that Dad bought me as a reward for the delicious dosa I made. Dad generally keeps telling us not to have ice-creams and chocolates because we are always eating that. And it surprised me when he happened to call me up and ask what ice-cream do I like the most!

“Why this?” I had asked, surprised.

“For cooking me such a lovely dish!” he had said.

And that was my biggest reward. Period. The ice-cream doesn’t sum up the happiness I feel.

And now I know, I am not that bad a cook!

Of Silent Nights

She sits alone on those lonely nights, waiting for someone who sits on the other side of the bridge. Their lives are parallel lines. But she thinks it’s no tragedy. Think about the souls who cross paths once and don’t meet for the next million miles! This way, at least she lives in eternal hope. And hope… isn’t that what drives you and me?