“Where am I going to get some banana leaves?” Amma came out of the kitchen wiping her hand on her night gown. I have told her a million times, not to wipe her hand on her gown. There were brown stains on either side of her night gown. Her night gown looked dirty all the time because of her habit.

Why can’t my mother use the towel, that is what kitchen towels are for!

Only in our house the kitchen towel was always sparkling white! ( because no one ever used it)
“For what Amma? why do you need Banana leaves?”
I looked at her hopefully, banana leaves! Perhaps she was making ela appam.
Aiyyah, How am I going to pack Sally’s food?”
“Amma, are you crazy? You want to pack her food in a Banana leaves? ela choru? Have you gone mad?”
“Why are you talking to me like that Nina? How can you talk like that? What is wrong in taking ela choru ? Amma’s voice sounded sad.
I regretted over reacting. I shouldn’t have asked Amma if she was crazy. How was Amma to know what is acceptable in an ash poosh culture?
“Sorry Amma, I was not trying to be mean.
Amma, if you take ela choru, Sally’s friends would think you are a ‘country’! They will all make fun of Sally. No one takes ela choru to school here. Everyone eats burgers and pizzas.”
Amma looked at me and I knew what she was thinking. Hundreds of kids took ela choru to school in Kerala and no one laughed at them. How come it is not ok to do the same in Bangalore?
“May be you are right Nina. I don’t want Sally to think that she has a ‘country’ mother.”
“You are not a ‘country’ mother Amma” I spoke. I felt the need to protect Amma although I wasn’t sure what I was trying to protect her from.
“Shall I pack the food in your old tiffin box?”
“You still have it?”
“Of course, why, you thought I threw it away? Money doesn’t grow on trees you know!”
Why was I surprised that Amma still had my tiffin box, When I know she still carried a box full of moth eaten silk sarees that George gave her when she was still in college?
Amma went to her room and called me
“Nina, come and help me”
“What do you want me to do?” I asked Amma
Amma pointed to the cardboard box on top of the shelf.
“Help me to bring that box down”
“Ok, I will get the chair”
I went to the living room and got the blue chair.
“Make sure you step on either side of the chair, don’t step in the middle”
“I know Amma”
How many million times she has told me that!
“You don’t have to keep telling me what to do Amma. I am 20 years old for heaven’s sake. I can make decisions and I am totally capable of taking care of myself, you know!”
I climbed on the chair and yanked the box from the top of the shelf. It was heavy and my hand swung back and hit the fan blade
“Ouch” I screamed in terror.
“Oh God ! Nina, Are you ok? Let me see your hand, get down Nina, let me see your hand” Amma screamed
I sat down on the chair and checked my hand, there was a gash on my wrist and it was bleeding.
“Oh God” Amma took my hand and pressed the wound to stop it from bleeding.
I so very badly wanted to scold Amma for forgetting to tell me to switch off the fan. I also knew if I did so, then I would have to eat my own words spoken a few minutes ago. After all I was totally capable of taking care of myself!
Yeah Right!
“move” Amma pointed to to her bed and I went and sat down on her bed, while keeping my hand above my heart level. At least I knew basic first aid!
ninney okkey onninum kollathilla ( all of you are good for nothing!)” Amma went to switch off the fan. She waited till the fan blades stopped moving and then climbed on the chair, making sure she stepped on either side, not the center and got the box down carefully.
she opened the box carefully and I looked inside. Right on top was a small cup. I remembered Amma used to keep that cup inside her round cake pan to make a tube pan. But now it looked very old and dirty. I couldn’t even imagine using that cup again.
“Why are you still keeping that dirty cup Amma?”
“Dirty cup? You call this dirty cup?” Amma looked at me incredulously.
“Then what? Can’t you see how dirty it is?”
“This isn’t dirty Nina, Do you know how expensive this cup is?”
“what? Expensive? How?”
“This is a pure silver cup, do you know that?”
“Hmm” Amma took the cup in her hand and was looking at it. I doubted if she could see anything written on that cup.
“Where did you get the cup Amma?”
Amma didn’t reply for a few seconds and I thought perhaps she didn’t hear me. i was just about to ask her again when I heard her speaking
“It was a wedding gift”
“Who gave it Amma?”
“Leave it Nina, you won’t know all the people who came to my wedding, would you”
Amma was back to her secretive mood. I never understood what would happen if she told me who gave her the gift. Why did it matter if I knew the person or not?

hv migraine..will write the rest tomorrow

4 thoughts on “

  1. My son uses her Kunji’s(my sister) lunch box to take to school. It’s oval shaped steel one. Me and my sister simply love it. Among few other things this was one amma kept safe and precious and so are we. Amma took it from ‘Aripetti’ back home on her last visit and gave us. It always reminds me of amma packing lunch in it and aniyathi keeping that inside her school bag.

    By the way, each day whenvever I open the net I hope to see your new post and eager to read it. Somehow it brought back old memories of childhood and I developed a new liking for this blog.

    take care – GB

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I followed your trail from Fish biriyani..to yaya..to this blog. Very interesting blog. Just one question – is this your past, present or just fiction.. I know, its none of my business but your amma n my amma seem to have some similarities.. 🙂
    Whatever it is, I like your blog so I am sticking arnd.


  3. When I had to leave home for college in another state, there was no ‘petti’ big enough to carry all the things that had to go in (I was a hoarder & wanted all the junk in my den to be transferred to my hostel room!). So reluctantly I took my grandpa’s huge VIP suitcase. It was brown, heavy and had one wheel missing. I felt like a ‘country’ coz it looked anything but glamorous! But I adore my grandpa and he had traveled all around the world with this suitcase. It never occurred to me then; but I now really believe that ‘petti’ is a lucky charm. I had no plans of ever leaving India but here I am in another continent and having fun globe trotting. My bro then took it when he left for college and now he is traveling too though based in India. Weird or not,my grandpa’s blessings or good vibes are on that suitcase! Funny, how much an old tiffin box can rake up:)

  4. I think the children today are unfortunate, having to taste everything that is made in microwave and next gen food processors.
    No china, no tiffin box can ever come close to the chammandis grinded in ‘kall’ and the yummy hand made ela- choru.

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