This morning, as I was buying vegetables from the vendor in my colony, a very unusual thing happened. I glanced at a pile of fresh bitter gourd. Something stirred within me, and in a flash of a second, I was transported back 25 years. I have always disliked this vegetable and seldom buy it. Yet today, it was something else…
Way back in the eighties, when life was far simpler, my family lived in big independent bungalow. I have been fortunate to have grown up as part of this large joint family. The home had a lawn in front, a backyard that had a washing stone (I wonder if these washing stones exist anymore, with the advent of washing machines). Growing up was fun amidst grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins galore. We were a total of 16 members living under the same roof and sharing a common kitchen!! As the years passed by, the next gen sought better opportunities to move to different parts of the globe. My grand mom, the wise old owl of the family, passed away too. It was like the roots of a majestic tree had all of a sudden been cut. The other elders in the family moved on to live with their own children. My father though, continued living in the home till his death last year. He had only one wish, when he knew his cancer was terminal, to die in his home.
A mere house now, it still stands tall in Bangalore- vacant! I seldom think much about it. So caught up are we in our daily lives that often we fail to relax, breathe and give a thought to what was once ours.
Today, the pile of bitter gourd took me back there. I remembered the grand “shrardam” ceremonies my grand mom was so particular about. Shrardam is a Tamil name for the function that is done in memory of a departed loved one. It is an elaborate affair, with an array of dishes that is prepared and served on banana leaves, to Brahmins, and then to the rest of the family. It is believed that the departed soul visits the home on that day. One of the dishes my mom used to prepare on this day was fried bitter gourd.
My dislike for the vegetable dates back to these days, when I used to push those fried rings right under the banana leaf I ate on.
But my grand mom’s watchful eye would often foil my plan, and I would invariably end up gulping it down with a glass of water. I wondered- why would the departed soul want to eat bitter gourd? Wouldn’t he just stop coming back?
A faint smile crossed my face as these visions crept in my mind today. I bent down and picked up a kilo of the tender bitter gourd. How I wish I had someone to tell me to eat it today. I came back home and fried them in rings, just the way mom would make it. They still tasted bitter, but there was a magical sweetness to it to today!!!!
Strange how something I disliked could actually trigger a plethora of fond memories.
So have you had an instance where something you disliked brought about a surge of emotions that were pleasant? Would love to know about it.
Image for representation purpose only. Source: www.awesomecuisine.com