Love in a jackfruit seed


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 smile.

I have many such gifts from the kids, each with its own allied memories, and lots of love.

Unexpected


The small town nestled in the hills, beautiful and green. Numerous small roads snaked their way across it; either going uphill or downhill.  Most houses were on small hills or hillocks.

The town council had recently appointed a new postmaster, who had been given the official quarters of the postal department – a rambling house with a huge living room, a kitchen and many bedrooms. The postmaster’s family settled down in the new home, happy, except for the fact that they had no neighbours in the vicinity. Their house stood, all by itself, on top of a hill; which had come to be called ‘Post Hill’.

The postmaster and his wife had four children. The children kept each other company in the big house, when they were not at school.

Outside their house stood an old silver oak tree. The locals told the postmaster’s wife that it was more than 50 years old.

The tree had grown quite close to the house and the postmaster feared that it would fall on their home, or its branches hurt his children, especially during the monsoon season. He had spoken to the Forestry Department to see if they could uproot it and replant it elsewhere or chop it down. They had promised to revert soon.

That year, the Monsoons set in early, and the town witnessed one of its worst rainy seasons ever. The Sun had been forced to take a long holiday.

On one such evening, heavy rains lashed across the town, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Heavy winds howled across the hills.

Most people were safely tucked-in indoors, keeping themselves warm and well fed!

At about eleven p.m. that night, a huge bolt of lightning fell on the town, and as many people recalled later, they saw it falling on Post Hill. The people worried about the postmaster and his family.

The rain spent itself by 6 am in the morning, as people ran to see what had happened, fearing the worst.

But when they reached Post Hill, they were happy to see the postmaster and his family safe and sound. They were amazed to see that the Silver Oak tree had been split into two by the bolt, and had fallen away from the house, saving its residents.

P.S: This is a true incident that happened to my paternal grandfather’s family, many decades ago!