My grandma was on overdrive. She had invited her first grandson and his wife, newlyweds, to her home for dinner. The preparations had started nearly ten days ago, attention being given to every single detail.
Preferences of the new bride were carefully considered, various menu options were listed out and rejected, and finally clarity emerged from total chaos. My grandmother had spared no effort to ensure that the new bride would feel welcome, and part of our family. It was her favourite grandson too!
We, her other grandchildren, were also caught-up in this excitement ! Running errands and eyeing the dishes, which were strictly not to be touched, or licked on the sly. The whole house was squeaky clean. It was a small independent house, of modest means, with a lovely backyard that had coconut trees, neem trees, and a well for water. My grandmother had outdone herself.
The day finally arrived, and by 6 p.m. the table was set. My grandmother’s best crockery was on display, the cutlery shone, and there was the aroma of love and many well-cooked dishes, wafting in the air.
The newlyweds were due to arrive at 7.30 p.m. At 6.00 p.m. all of us proceeded to get ready and look our best. My grandmother came out radiant in a beautiful silk saree, elegant as always. Our parents hovered around chit-chatting, while we played a game of Monopoly.
My grandma went around the house one last time, flicking away imaginary dust and straightening a couple of photo frames.
The clock showed 6.50 p.m. and then, without any notice, there was a power cut, just like that! Those were the days when frequent load shedding happened during the summer months. There was no generator to take over.
We panicked, as the adults scurried about lighting candles, hoping that our thinking faculties would be energized by the candle-light.
Suddenly, my grandma whooped, and said, “I have a brilliant idea. Let’s host this dinner in the back yard, by the well, a candle light dinner, under the moon and the stars.”
Now that we had a sense of direction and purpose, we kicked into action.
Back & forth; carrying, transferring, carefully balancing, till the open-air table was set. The cutlery sparkled even more under the moonlight.
Grandma lit candles all around the wall of the well, and the whole back yard looked transformed, infused as it was with a warm glow.
Just when we pronounced ourselves ready, the newlyweds walked in. They were taken to the yard, with much fanfare and giggling. The new bride seemed like a lot of fun.
Dinner was a fun affair, as family jokes were repeated, stories shared, and we tucked into one of the best dinners ever.
I caught my gran’s eyes as I went to refill my plate.
“We pulled it off, eh?”she chuckled.