I love my work table, and the organized clutter on it. It is where I feel at peace, where I write, and where I keep all the documents and to do lists that I am juggling with, at any given moment.
On my table is also a small rectangular tray, in which I store stickers, post-its, drawings and small gifts from my children.
In this box is a jackfruit seed, its coat a little loose now. This jackfruit seed was gifted to me by my daughter, about four years ago. She drew eyes, a nose and a mouth. The eyes were on all sides, so that any side you turned the seed, a pair of eyes stared back at you.
I still remember that afternoon. We had just come back from the supermarket with two boxes of jackfruit.
We usually cut open the fruit, preserve the seeds and add them to a lentil based gravy. The seed becomes tender upon cooking, and adds a nice flavour to the dish.
My daughter took away one of the seeds for the gift she was to make for me.
As she observed the seed, I told her stories from my childhood. We lived in a small town in the hills, and it was quite cold for eight out of twelve months in a year.
We had a small cast iron stove called a kumutti aduppu that looked like this.
Image courtesy – Pinterest
This stove had many uses. My grandma would load it with coal and light it up. One had to keep fanning the coal to keep the fire going.
On rainy days, when clothes (especially baby clothes) needed to dry, a basket was placed over the kumutti’s embers, and small baby frocks and shirts would dry on them.
Small pieces of fragrant resin called benzoin resin, sambrani, were thrown into the coal embers. The resin emitted a lovely fragrance, considered to be therapeutic.
On the weekends, when all of us had our traditional oil baths, the sambrani would be thrown into the kumutti, and a basket placed over it. The fragrant smoke would seep out through the cracks in the basket, and dry our wet hair and infuse it with fragrance.
We would also throw in jackfruit seeds into the kumutti, and allow them to roast. Our grandma would take them out carefully, cool them and give them to us to eat.
Truly beautiful memories.
I come back to the here and now. My daughter walks in and sees the jackfruit seed.
“Mom, can’t believe you still have this.”
I have many such gifts from the kids, each with its own allied memories, and lots of love.