“Ammachi, do you want to eat porotta? There is a nice restaurent over there that sells porotta” I pointed to a shop near the junction
“When did you eat there?, with whom?”
“Aiyyoh ente Ammachi, I have never eaten there, I have to walk in front of that restaurent every time I come home! See it is near the junction, if you turn left there, you will reach the railway station!”
( I wondered what Ammachi would have done to me, if she knew Maria and I ate lunch at the railway station canteen!)
“Porotta? Isn’t that a methan’s(muslim) food?”
“Hmm, it is a muslim dish, it is really nice, you peel the layers and dip it in mutton kuruma and eat. It is very ! very! very! tasty.” The moment I uttered that I have eaten it before, I knew I am going to be in big trouble. Now I will have to tell more lies about where and when I ate muslim porotta. Me and my big mouth!
“When did you eat the porotta?” Ammachi looked at me like a detective.
“Oh Ammachi I ate it at the medical college, I have a muslim classmate, he brought is from home one day”
“No, no no, She.. it is a girl, slip of the tongue, She is from Malabar!”
Ammachi looked at me. My heart was beating non stop. I am never good at lying. Of all the stupid food on planet earth I had to ask Ammachi, if she wanted to eat porotta!
“I am not eating any muslim food”
“Why Thangamma, will you become a muslim if you eat their food?”
Ammachi looked at me and I asked her again
“Will a muslim become a suriani kristiani, if he eats our meen curry(fish curry)?”
“No he won’t. Suriani Kristiani is only born in a suriani kristiani family, like ours!. You know, our family line goes all the way back to the time when St. Thomas came to Kerala”
“Ofcourse, very true and we have a tail and three horns, that makes us different from the rest of the malayalees”
“We don’t have any tails and horns, but we do have our own culture that is centuries old and don’t you dare say anything bad about us” Ammachi looked visibly angry
“Sorry Ammachi, I wasn’t trying to make you angry. I just wanted to eat some porotta. If you don’t want to eat, we won’t. Please don’t get angry with me”
“hmm, let us go and buy a dress for you” Ammachi huffed and walked towards the textile showroom. We passed the shoe shop and I remembered something I did many many years ago.
“Ammachi” I called
“Can I tell you something?”
“Promise me you won’t scold me”
“do you remember, Once when I came to Chengannur for Onam holidays and I lost my slipper and you thought someone stole it?”
“The truth is” I looked at her to see what her reaction is going to be. She looked at me
“What is the truth?” She asked me
“Well, I went to play in the creek”
“I was on top of the bund and I removed my slipper, so it won’t get wet, and one slipper fell in to the water. It was floating in the current and I watched it disappearing.”
“What happend to the other one?” Ammachi asked ” did you drop that in to the water?”
“How did you know that?” I asked Ammachi
“You are my granddaughter right?”
“hmm” I nodded.” Sorry Ammachi, I lied to you”
“Do you know what is the punishment for lying?”
“hell fire?” I asked her
“Hmm, the devil will roast you in a big huge, giant cheena chatti(chinese wok), and your skin and your eyes and your hair, everything will burn!” Ammachi spoke like a prophet
“True, and you know something Ammachi? I don’t have to worry much, my whole family will be there in the wok with me!!”
Ammachi started to laugh
“Aiyyah, You thought you can scare me??”
“Where is the porotta restaurent?” Ammachi asked me
“Why? I thought you don’t want to eat any muslim food!”
“Are you coming or not?”
“Ok, ok” Together we walked to the porotta shop and I ordered 2 porotta and a plate of mutton kuruma.
“Ammachi, do you know the story of Peter’s mother in law?”
“Aiyyah, the one in the bible, Christ’s disciple?”
“What about his mother in law?”
“Peter’s mother in law was very sick and Peter’s wife wanted Peter to ask Jesus to cure her, but Peter didn’t want to ask Jesus and finally one day mother in law died”
“Then what happend?”
“Patience my dear, why are you trying to stretch your legs before you even sit down?? thokkinathu keri vedivekkano?”
Ammachi pouted her lips and I was happy.. Every time when she told me a story and if I ever asked her then what happend, she would tell me the same dialogue!
“Peter’s wife asked Peter to find out fom Jesus, if her mother is in Heaven, Peter went and asked Jesus and Jesus checked the records and found out that, Peter’s mother in law is in hell.”
“When Peter’s wife heard that her mother is in hell, she told Peter,if you don’t get Jesus to help my mother, you don’t have to come back home. With a heavy heart, Peter went back to Jesus and told him what happend. Jesus told Peter, I will give a bean seed to your mother in law.. Each day , if your mother in law is good, the the plant will grow taller and when it reaches the door to heaven, your mother in law can climb out of hell”
I looked at Ammachi, She was about to open her mouth and ask me then what happend? She looked at me anxiously, really wanting to know what happend next.
“Peter’s mother in law tried really hard to be good and finally one fine morning, the bean plant reached the doors of heaven and Peter’s mother in law started to climb. She was only a feet away from the heaven gate and she looked down below, to say bye bye to all her friends. That is when she saw, all her friends were also climbing the bean plant”
“Then what happend?” Ammachi asked
“Peter’s mother in law was so angry. How dare they? Jesus send the bean seed only for her, not for them. Jesus is her son in law. She was so mad, she cut the bean stalk that was below her legs, so the other women climbing behind her won’t get a chance to get out of hell, Unfortunately, the top part of the bean stalk wasn’t strong enough to hold her weight!!”
Ammachi was laughing so loud and I looked around us, Everyone was looking at us, the two mad women.
It felt so good to laugh and to see Ammachi laughing. For tomorrow is going to be totally different. Tomorrow, I will have to leave Ammachi and go back to the medical college and face the music all by myself.
Tomorrow, Ammachi will be alone again, struggling each day even to just get up from her bed, hoping to do her job well.
She must take care of the land for her son and I must find my own destiny. The two mad women!
note: My maternal grand mother told me the Peter’s mother in law story, when I was little, probably to get at her own mother in law!
There is no such story in the bible and it is purely 100% fictional.