7

“Mooooooossssssaaaaaakkkkkaaaaa”

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I still remember my first boogeyman. The only one.  I’m pretty sure he was born from the depths on my Mother’s imagination when I threw a tantrum or refused to finish my bowl of cauliflower soup. Nonetheless, he was an important part of my childhood. My scary ‘Moosakka’.

In retrospect I realise that it was not even a scary name. Moosa is a pretty common name in India. Its the Arabic version of Moses and ‘kka’ simply means brother. Logically, it should have been the worst boogeyman ever. I mean, who calls their monster, their brother? But my Mum being the ever so polite person that she is, decided to adoringly call it Moosakka. I guess kids are oblivious to logic cause this Moosakka was my stuff of nightmares.  Every time I was naughty or unmanagable, mum would call out his name in a low, hoarse voice reserved just for him. I don’t know if it my imagination or if she really did it but it always appeared to me that his name was called out in slow motion.

No attempts were ever made to tell me how he looked like. Well played Mum, cause in the absence of a description, my little brain began to perceive the most horrific figure. In my head, Moosakka was a huge man with a minaret for a head. SCARY! Well, not so much now, cause I am used to mohawks that resemble minarets but to a 4 or 5 year old it was.

Moosakka never did anything or I never gave him a chance to do anything. My Mum had me around her little finger thanks to him. I distinctly remember wondering where Mum got to know all these people and wondering if Mum kept the right company but I dared not question her lest she summon Moosakka. He was always just around the corner.

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I did eventually get over him. Today Mousakka is one of my favourite dishes and the instead of sending chills down my spine, it gets me salivating and hungry. Have you tried it? Its most yum! As my friend, with whom I had the same conversation yesterday, pointed out, it is the saddest fate ever to befall a monster: his transformation from horror to deliciousness.

As a mother myself. i completely understand why Moosakka was born. We underestimate our toddlers. We underestimate their power for chaos. They thrive in chaos and confusion and gain strength as our resources go down. And then they send their bowl of soup flying around the house. If you have ever had to sit and pick spaghetti off your hair or wipe clean the walls off any remnants of beetroot puree,  you will know exactly why Moosakka was born.

I haven’t yet created a boogeyman for Z. The impending worry of a possible  ‘Time out’ seems to work just fine for him. I know a lot of mothers turn their noses up at the concept of scaring their kids into obedience. I say to each her own. I grew up scared of a monster but only scared enough to tow me back into line. Infact the monster has  left me with more memories I cherish, than nightmares.

Someday I know I will need my Moosakka again but until then I shall chase him away. He has done me no wrong but I need him to lurk in the background for now cause while he’s the monster my Z may deserve, he’s not the one he needs right now. So I’ll chase him away, because he can take it. He’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian of Mothers’ sanity. A watchful protector around the corner. The Moosakka

Pic credit: 4.bp.blogspot.com                                                                                                     simplyrecipes.com

15

My bathroom and I.

During the bus journey home, on my first break from college, i was super nervous. I knew I had missed home terribly and I was very eager to meet everyone. I was afraid seeing my Mum, Dad, sisters and my niece and nephews would reduce me to a hysterical mess. I did not know what it was about home I missed, yet I knew I missed something deeply.

I had not realised the extent to which I was attached to my family and home. Mum and Dad has paid me a visit once, yet that feeling of emptiness remained. I guess I was yearning to go home. Not once did I think I would ever be feeling like this, not once during the heated debates and arguments about going to a college far away from home. My sisters had tried to convince me about considering a college close home, first lovingly using emotional blackmail and then heatedly using logic and reasoning but I had stood my ground. I had picked the college I wanted and I was going there, come hell or high water. I knew if I came home and cried, everyone would nod knowingly and I knew I couldn’t take that, not after the drama I had pulled at home to go to this college.

As I reached home, I saw that my entire family was there to welcome me. Overjoyed to see them all, yet bracing myself I went into the house. I was ready for the onslaught of tears as I hugged my family, but nothing happened. I was just overjoyed, the tears, the hysteria, the breakdown did not happen. As we sat down for dinner I entertained everyone with my college stories. There were loads of laughter and teasing but no regretful tears. I presumed I had misjudged my excitement to meet my family for the tearful longing.

As I said goodnight to my family and retreated to my old room, I was already wording a blog post in my head about how I had stupidly misjudged my emotion. I walked into my room, looked around and went into the bathroom for a quick wash and that’s where it happened. I broke down. I sobbed hysterically. I could not stem my tears. I now understood what it was that I was yearning for. I now understood the vacuum that even a visit from my folks could not fill. I had missed my bedroom and bathroom, I had missed my territory. Mum and Dad and my family, I knew I could count on, but my bathroom and the luxuries that came with it, were fleeting. My college bathroom was a mess. Not only did I have to share it with others, I could not spend infinity in it. I could not talk to the mirror, I could not read a book on the potty, I could not enact scenes from popular movies in the shower. My sacred space up until then, was not my own at college. Laying down on my bed, only made matters worse. Instead of the hard lump of a mattress I had gotten used to in the past couple of months, what greeted me was the familiar softness of home. Everything was clean and mine. The remainder of my night was spent crying over how awesome my room and bathroom was.

Today as my nephews and nieces go off to college and hostel, I always eagerly wait for their first break home, just to see their reaction, just to see if they missed their bathrooms as much as I did. Turns out the bathroom has many forms. My nephew who just came home last night said, the balcony in his apartment on the 12 floor, that overlooks the entire city caused a lump in this throat. Another friend cannot stop gushing over how emotional her reading nook made her. Still another cousin tells me, a step in his backyard where he lounges with his morning coffee, turned him into a crying lil school girl. Guess we all have our bathrooms, only it is not always the bathroom.

10

The Hungry Beggar

 

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Indian mothers never save their kid an after school snack, they save them after school meals. Growing up, I always had 4 meals. There was breakfast, which was most often gobbled in a hurry to attempt to catch the school bus, the school lunch which was spent in mindless gossip where more hands than mine dipped into my lunch box, the home lunch which was the after school meal my Mum would save me and then the big family dinner.

Being a lover of food, I enjoyed all my meals immensely but it was only the after school meal that bored me out of my wits. Mum would always save me a big bowl of rice and veggies and curries and sometimes some fried fish too. It was supposed to feed my growing body. My horizontally growing body, that is. The cliche that Mums are blind to the shortcomings in their offsprings is true and couldn’t be truer in my case for at a time when I could do with the skipping of a meal or two, I was being fed an extra meal of carbs with a little bit of veggies thrown in.  Being the good daughter that I was, I ate it all without so much as a whimper. Just kidding, I loved it. I still do. Carbs and saturated fats speak to me at a personal level.

Anyways, this one meal was the one I dreaded the most cause it was the only time a meal seemed like a chore to me. Sitting down at the dining table on my own with a mount of rice to conquer was a daunting task. It was less to do with the food and more about the lack of company. I was bored and that boredom was affecting my affection towards the meal.

One day I was mindlessly trudging through my meal when a King in all his glory appeared before me. When I say King, please get the Royal Family’s image out of your head. I am talking about the Indian kings, in all their finery and grandeur. Decked in ornaments from head to toe as if to reinstate his kingship. He smiled at me and said “Eat”. I looked down and saw that I had transformed and so had my settings. I was sitting on the floor of what appeared to be the walkway to the king’s castle. My clothes were in tatters and I was covered in filth. I had evidently not seen the inside of a shower in ages. I suddenly felt ‘hungry’ very very hungry which was strange cause I had rarely felt this emotion until now. I looked in front of me and there sat the most beautiful bowl of rice, veggies, curry and some fried fish. Never had that bowl of food looked as appetizing as it did now. I looked up at the King who was smiling at me and coaxing me to eat. The word had hardly left his mouth when I began to stuff my face. It was pandemonium. More rice was flying off my face than finding its way into my tummy. I literally had a rice facial. The need to eat it all at that very instant was so strong that it became the sole purpose of my existence. The more I ate, the more I wanted to eat. My vision got cloudy as a bits of curried rice stuck to my eyelashes. I still had food left in my bowl but I’d been hungry for so long that I went after the food sprayed around the bowl. I was eating off the street, lest a stray dog gets it before me. I ate it all with an urgency I had never felt in my 10 years of existence and I felt full. I looked up to thank the generous King but he had long since disappeared. I looked around and I was back in my uniform, back at my dining table. I was looked messy with curry stains on my shirt and rice in my hair. The dining table looked like a war field and an overturned glass of water only added to the effect. It was easily the best meal I had ever had.

Soon this turned into a routine. On somedays, I was a social activist, protesting against some injustice by fasting unto death and then being force fed by the military cause the government could not let me win and on others I was a freak show, a girl who could eat forever. My favourite role however has been that of the hungry beggar, a role I’ve reprised on countless occasions.

Years later I still find myself breaking into impromptu scenarios, be it while waiting for a taxi or while alone in the kitchen. It just makes life a little more dramatic.

Pic courtesy: ichabilal.wordpress.com