The atmosphere looked fresh. The roads were shining. The leaves were greener, and there was a nice chill in the air. Bangalore weather is like that. You can’t help fall in love after it rains. And then, who would want to miss an opportunity to take a stroll on such an amazingly pleasant evening.
My stroll partner is my ten year old son. We do that often. We talk, we giggle, share jokes, indulge in banters and also talk some serious stuff. It’s a time that we both enjoy and look forward to. Our stroll.
That evening was bit different. We were strolling after quite a while. Reason? We had been to Kolkata. And, then had just returned back. My boy was still there in spirits. And why not? Grandparents,they know how to pamper kids in a different way altogether.
Being the foodie he is, he was still remembering his “Maa ke Maa ke haath ka khana”. “You are good Mumma, but not like Dida,” had been an oft repeated phrase, since we returned. Though slightly offended, and proud at the same time – I understood his mood, so allowed him to rant in his ways.
While walking and crushing pebbles beneath his feet, he asked, “ Mumma, what is it that you remember about Dida most fondly?” It didn’t take a moment for me to reply, “ Unke Haanth ka Khana”. I added, “I miss them.” The boy looked at me, smiled and said, “Me too, Mumma. You were so lucky.” Well, these little words from him took me years back to those days where all we had was Maa ke haath ka khana, and quite literally, just that.
Being brought up in a defense establishment, I had spent good years in a place that had no culture of outside food. Or fancy eating, if I may call it so. Everything was homemade. Whether it was our birthday or a friend’s visit, it was always Maa who made the spreads that were gorged by my folks. Whether it was ‘Luchi’ and ‘Aloo Dum’ or ‘Mutton Curry’ and ‘Pulao’ Maa was always at the helm.
With limited resources in her hand, she churned out delectable delicacies, which lingered in the mouth for days to come. I tell my son, how our life had been and he hears with attention, also at times failing to visualise what a life his mom has lead, and what he is into. Palpable.
The boy then goes ahead and asks, “Mumma, connected to food is there anything that you think Dida never missed to say or do?” Well, I walked in silence for few moments and then gleefully quipped, “Khechish?”(Khana Khaya Kya?). My son laughed and said, “ Oh no Mumma, but that’s your line, you copied from Dida, yeah?”
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I giggled too. Because, I knew that he wasn’t wrong. Since both my kids have their meals provided by the school, my first question after they are back is just this- Khana Khaya Kya? I never miss to ask this, and they never fail to give me a menu. And, then a discusion what was good and what was inedible. Mom’s habit..
As we walked few more steps in silence, in my own way I mulled, isn’t that all mothers are just so worked up with food, always. No matter how old the child becomes a mother’s stomach only gets full, if her child is well fed, and on time. I think it is a global phenomena but bit more with Indian moms. But, then even after many years isn’t this one of the reasons for that strong bond that a child and a mother shares. I mean something omnipresent in the senses that I come to know if my son has eaten well or not!!
Today, I don’t know, how I will behave some two decades down the line. But, it makes it much easier for me to understand my Maa now. Now I understand why the answer to a simple question like ‘Khana Khana Kya?’ was so important to her, even though I used to shrug off this question so casually!!
We walked back home ending our stroll filled with fond memories. My hands resting on this shoulders now. And as we stepped into the house I ask, “Acha batao kya kahoge khane mein.” And before he answers, we break into a laugh together!!! Khana ki baat….again!!
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The author is Maitabi Banerjee who is a writer, editor, blogger and a creative consultant at FloatingExpressions.com. She loves reading, music and traveling and describes herself as a hopeless romantic.
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