Essence of Childhood

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Perhaps the most beautiful thing we can feel in our lives is telling someone we love that we love them unconditionally and thanking someone whom we are grateful for. Showing our gratitude to those who taught us how simple life can be and we don’t need complicated stuffs to make it beautiful 💞❤ We should learn to find joy in the most simple things in life and not bother or get carried away by the materialistic life. Back then it was all small, happy and simple. Can you relate to these simple joys of life too?

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I take pride in growing up in a typical Indian middle class joint family where everyone contributed in their unique way to make a normal mundane life beautiful and meaningful. Our home at Jharkhand was surrounded by numerous trees, flowers, lakes and loads of sunshine. Chirping birds and crickets, hopping grasshoppers, lovely butterflies and ladybugs, jumping frogs and flying dragonflies. The cuckooing of the Cuckoo in a distant mango tree. A small nest beaming of cute small birdies chirping loudly for their mother on that big, dense, fully loaded Jackfruit tree. Oh, how I loved that Jackfruit tree! It was huge and it’s branches spread like clouds forming a union. It provided a soothing shade where I have spent countless days swinging and playing with my siblings.

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When the scorching summer sun arrived, it provided a gentle and calming shade just like an elderly in the family. It’s green round leaves shined in the sunlight leaving me wondering how can someone be so happy in that sweaty summer? The tiny Jackfruits adorned the tree and hugged the branches like a baby clinging to it’s mother. They were beautiful! With every passing day they grew plumper and bigger. Our summer meals were filled with different Jackfruit curries and fries. But, it is that one morsel from my grandmother’s hand is what I remember and crave the most.

My grandmother as any grandmother was really good at feeding the kids. She had this charm about her. She could transform any simple thing into something extraordinary. She loved stories as much as I do. I guess that’s what brought us together even more. She would tell me stories about her childhood and things which I wouldn’t have heard of. I remember her telling that once when my grandfather went to UP to meet one of his friends’, he tasted this really tasty, sumptuous, flavorful rice cooked with the humble Kathal (Jackfruit). They called it “Kathal ki Biriyani”. Talking she quickly mixed the Jackfruit curry with the plain rice and fed me and stated that how she wondered how that flavorful “Kathal ki Biriyani” tasted? I couldn’t stop but wondered the same and somehow felt that the thought has made the humble “Kathal-rice” yummier. I thought about the Kathal ki Biriyani for a a few days and forgot about it in my busy life for a long time.

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It was only when I went to college and a friend served this Kathal ki biriyani that I remembered my grandmother’s story once more. I wondered again if that was just a story to feed me a good portion of the meaty Kathal-rice on that day or it indeed happened? How could I know for she was gone long back. I longed once again for her stories, talks and teachings. The little time we spent laughing and talking together. I realized that it is a great joy to give and that you end up feeling sorry if you always receive. I came to this realization after her death through those numerous food and stories which I loved having with her together. How I wish I could make my daughter meet her and know how great a person she was. How I wish my daughter listening to all those stories again and being in awe. I wonder if it would feel the same?

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So, when I saw this small Kathal yesterday on my trip to the vegetable market, I couldn’t stop myself from buying one. While making the little one sleep in the night yesterday, I decided to cook the flavorful Kathal ki biriyani today. And here it is all ready and served to eat. The little birdie was excited to taste the biriyani and asked me if I made it specially for her? I shook my head in negative and told her it was a tribute to my grandmother. She paused and then asked me – “Mammaa, will your grandmother be proud of you now? With teary eyes I nodded and replied – “Yes, my love. I know she certaily would be.” Today, how I wish I could feed her one spoon full of this biriyani and make her realise how it would have tasted the day my grandfather ate it for the first time.

P.S.: Since the whole city has been shutdown given the Corona scare and we all are going through a tough time. With the kids having nowhere to go and being restricted to home, please make sure they eat only home cooked food and get to do some activity like reading and playing at home and not to step outside unless absolutely necessary. Stay safe, wherever you are ❤️

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