Tag Archives: parents

Of Returning Home

The train jerks to a halt, the metal wheels screeching against the rails, momentarily piercing through the drone of noises in the station. Picking up my duffel bag and grabbing the door handle to steady myself, I stare out at the maddening crowd of people all around.

Hawkers and taxi drivers and stationmasters and masses of men – it surprises me as to how the ground doesn’t crumble under their weight.

Stepping out of the train into the light of a scorching autumn sun, I take a moment to look around and breathe in the air. A smell if roasted peanuts coupled with a faint aroma of lemon oil teases the breeze.

Somewhere a hawker screams at the stray dogs that are running away with s piece of his bread. To my right, a coolie picks up the luggage of an old Lady, wincing under the weight of the blue suitcases. He complains and asks her to pay more as he starts walking, dragging the other bag behind him. Somewhere far away, a little boy sells newspapers, shrieking wildly, running after every person, hoping they’d buy a copy.

Silence is evasive as a xerox machine next to a shop, whirs and clicks, throwing sheets of paper all around. The owner shouts at the boy who is serving customers at the counter and he immediately comes to the rescue. Together, they slam the metal top to shut the machine.

Heels click against the gravel pavement. A little boy who us wearing a pair of oversized bunny slippers, jumps on every drying puddle, clapping his hands in excitement.

It is an unusually noisy Sunday.

But amidst all this, I find a deep sense of oblivion.

Nobody seems bothered. Everyone walks their own wat, occasionally stopping by to take a look here and there. Children hold on to their mothers, tight, while the men load the luggage into the train. Some people are leaving while some are returning back from where they had arrived.

As the evening air quietly blows, I can’t help but spread my arms and take a deep breath. It smells of home.

As if on cue, a frail man dressed in a pair of white pants and a grey shirt, approaches me.

“Madam ji,” he says. “Are you looking for a taxi?”

A slight gasp of surprise leaves my mouth as I withdraw my hands and shove them into the pockets of my overcoat.

“Why,yes!” I reply him after some time.

“Where to?” he asks but doesn’t wait for a reply. Instead, he picks up my bag and motions me to follow him.

“I’ve parked my taxi just there,” he talks as he manoeuvres around the people who’ve fallen asleep on the platform.

As we walk past the swirling rush of people, hearing a plethora of noises zooming into a drone, I can’t help but feel a strange peace within me. The noises don’t affect me.

With a slight spring in my steps, I walk out of the station into the slightly thick air of the parking lot. Every second fills my heart with profound happiness.

I watch him put my bags at the back of the car. Before he gets inside the taxi, he motions me to take the backseat.

Pulling open the door, I glance back at the station again. It seems as if it is moving away from me with each passing second.

Soon, I tell myself, I’ll be home. The little daisies in the garden will greet me and a bowl of corn soup will be waiting at the table.

Mom will be sitting in the living room, sipping in her usual cup of tea and flipping through the pages of some random magazine. Outside, on the street, my brother will be playing with his friends, crying in joy with the other children. And Dad will be glued to the TV screen, watching the latest political debate. They will be waiting for me. They will be calling to each other and sneaking glances at the clock, waiting for me to ring the bell. And when I will, they will rush to the door and hug me like there will be no tomorrow.

“Madam ji,” the driver’s gruff voice breaks me from my train of thought. “Where to?”

Slipping into the backseat and peeling down the windows, I feel the same air brush against my face again.

“Home,” I say and he smiles.

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!