Perhaps it was the reality that with each year that goes by, my mother has one less year on earth and I have one less year with her and my inability to forgive her, so I could cherish whatever little time she has on earth makes me feel miserable every year when Amma’s birthday approaches. This year was no different. Last weekend when I went for Indian grocery shopping, I noticed a packet of Aval ( Beaten rice) on the shelf.
When I was growing up, if Amma was home when I returned from school, She would make Aval nanachathu as a snack. I am never known for my patience and Amma used to get irritated with me because I refused to wait a few minutes for the Aval to soak up the moisture from the freshly grated coconut. She would mutter “Appante makal alle, jathya gunam thoothal poovumo?) ( like father, like daughter).
I haven’t eaten Aval since I went to Bangalore to do medicine. I thought I will make Aval nanachathu and at least I could smell the familiar smell and feel close to my mother.
I came home all excited. I opened the aval packet, took it out, put in a colander to wash. A part of me knew you don’t wash Aval, There was no way I could eat something without washing it. Beaten rice now looked soaked rice. I wanted to salvage it, so I quickly placed the soaked sad looking aval in my muram, hoping to dry it in the sun. I now own something that is neither beaten rice, nor soaked rice. I don’t even know what to call it anymore.
I am not sure why is that I could eat unwashed aval without any qualms as a child, yet as an adult I can’t.