A brief sojourn on Monday


The week has begun, and yet another weekend has joined the archives of history. Monday is almost over in our part of the world.

My kids are back home, with schedules, tests and assignments for the week. My weekly plan sits in a neatly written list on my table. Somehow, the fun we had over the weekend seems to have evaporated. In its place is a seriousness, and a sense of purpose. The next weekend seems aeons away.

And between the two weekends, work we must.

It is around 7.30 p.m. and all of us are busy tapping away on our laptops or staring at our screens, seeking answers to various questions!

In just a little while, my husband walks in. He pulls out a plastic packet from his backpack.

He says, “These are jackfruit chips that my friend at work gave me.”

The jackfruit chips are from the friend’s orchard in Kerala, India – a region renowned for the quality of its jackfruit, and for the many delicious chips, jams, preserves etc that are made from it. Fresh jackfruit had been specially picked, sliced and fried into chips during the friend’s trip to his home town.

All of us crowd around, and open the packet of chips with great anticipation. We pop them into our mouths.

Absolutely perfect, crunchy, fresh and delicious. We dive in for more, rendered speechless for a few minutes, as we stand around the table and munch.

The freshness of the chips transports us to the backwaters of Kerala, and evokes memories of houseboats and cups of tea, of coconut trees and green fields, of kingfishers and the Arabian Sea, of serenity and peace.

We soon come out of our reverie. Back to Monday and reality. But just for a few moments there, we were away on a holiday, and come back refreshed. The week does not seem so long after all.

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.