Gone are those days when summer holidays with cousins meant dinner in the backyard, near the well, which every home had. The area around the well usually had a cement floor, in one corner of which was a washing stone to wash clothes. Each home usually had a few coconut trees, and maybe some mango or neem trees.
Dinner with cousins was a fun time, when we would all sit in a semicircle around an aunt or grandma, who would have premixed sambar rice or curd rice in a huge vessel, which she would then pass into each of our cupped hands. We would each have a banana leaf with some vegetable or pickle or papads as accompaniment(s) to the main rice dish.
We would laugh, exchange jokes and talk animatedly as we gobbled up all the yummy food that was given to us.
Cut to the present. We are at my mom’s and my kids and all their cousins of various ages are excitedly making plans for dinner. They decide that dinner with cousins equals pizza. They are soon deeply engrossed in the wide variety of toppings and crust fillings – vociferously debating the merits and demerits of each. The order is finally placed, and soon all of them vanish into their virtual worlds.
My mom, who was busy with her chores when the pizza conversation happened, comes to know about the pizza plans only after she has made her aromatic rasam and has started prepping vegetables for dinner.
When the pizzas are delivered, my mom brings her rasam and leaves it on the table. She tells her grandchildren that they can have the rasam like a soup if they want.
The aroma of melted cheese, bell peppers, olives and all things pizza waft around our home. We sniff appreciatively. The kids go berserk. This is their version of our ‘childhood dinners by the well’ story. The topics of conversation are so different. They talk about memes and their favourite shows and references from these shows. But the camaraderie is the same.
Once the pizzas vanish, my son fills a small bowl with my mom’s rasam. He sits down on the couch and takes a sip. He smacks his lips and slurps the next spoon. “Wow, grandma, this is simply delicious”, he exclaims!!
This is cue enough for the other cousins. All of them fill cups of rasam and sit down to slurp noisily, relishing the taste and sharing silly jokes, while reveling in their grandmom’s love. My mom watches them, a smile playing on her face.
My sisters and I reminisce about the passage of time. As we walk down memory lane, our kids are busy creating their own memories for the future.