You know my mom was here to celebrate the closing stages of dasara and she went back staying with me for very few days, I brought all kinds of things for her but truly I never knew her favorite dish. I asked my mother what her favorite dish was.
“Nothing” she replied.
“But there must be something. Everyone has a favorite”, I persisted.
“Nothing, you silly child”, she replied. Mummy in her usual no-nonsense way had dismissed an important question about herself.
But her answer just caused more questions to pop up. I thought about what she said over and over again at dinner time. She served me mushroom datshi, papad and rice for dinner. The papad was crisp, which you could hear its crack as someone bit into it. I liked both the crispy papad and cheesy mushroom with fewer chilies. The mushroom is one of my favorite. She knew what’s my favorite dish. So what was her darling part of the meal?
I went to bed that night with the words playing in my head. My dreams were troubled because he is leaving-she is leaving. It must have been early morning 3:20 a.m. when I finally slept. When I woke up, it was already 5am. I went directly went to kitchen rubbing my eyes and found my mother in the kitchen.
She placed before me a cup of coffee. Made the way I liked it. Steaming hot. Sweet, thick and frothy-on-top. Mummy knew everything about my taste. She knew I could empty an entire bowl of ‘noodles’ for breakfast. She knew her daughter never went anywhere near a bitter gourd and that the lastcheesy veggie in the container was always mine, I don’t take the fried rice and anything bitter, was reflected in the written rule in the invisible family book.
I knew only one thing about my mother’s preference in food. That she liked her tea cold and thick. But all of a sudden I wasn’t sure if that had been a preference all along. Or was it because she never had the time to sip it when it was hot?
She stood by the stove as I watched, flipping rotis, urging me to eat while the roti was still warm. I had watched her, beside the stove for so many years now flipping rotis, frying something, making azay or stirring curries. She will never sit down with the rest of us.
In all my 25 years, never before did I pause to ask, Mummy what is your favorite dish? Do you like beans? What about chicken? Gravy or fried?
She had rearranged her spice preference according to us. Rearranged her appetite according to us. Rearranged her life around ours. Sacrificed her life taking care of us.
Last time looked at the spatula in her hand and I pushed my plate back.
“Why don’t you sit down and eat? I’ll prepare the food”, I said.
I knew the answer before she said it. Not now. Not hungry. Dishes in the sink. The potatoes must go into the pressure cooker first. A list of to-do’s before she rest.
She refused to give up the spatula and I have ordered to sit back and ‘enjoy the rice while they are warm’.
Mummy, today I have a ‘home-sickness’ feeling creeping up on me. Missing you and the food cooked by you, mixing of all kind of ingredients like love, care and everything in fact.
And I swear to God, one day I will find out that Favorite Dish of yours and I am going to cook by myself and serve you. I just missed you today.
- 20th of Oct, 2015.
- 20th of Oct, 2015.