Mustard seeds spluttered on merrily for a while and then tapered to an occasional apologetic cough. I broke a few red chillies and threw them into the pan. Curry leaves, chopped garlic and ginger waited their turn. As a symbolic protest to the spiraling high price of Onion, I had left them alone in the shelf.
Home alone and too lazy to go out to eat, I was in the process of making ‘whole wheat uppma’ – I don’t know its English equivalent. I had scoured the ‘fridge and kitchen shelves for the embellishments that I usually add – tomatoes, cashew nuts, coriander leaves, green chilles - in fact, I don’t cook to a recipe - I innovate, adapt; I improvise.
As P was away for a few days, the vegetable trough in the fridge contained only a few sorrowful looking pieces - of cauliflower, a cabbage of uncertain d.o.b, tomatoes ready for trash and a mixture of others who had transformed into strange shapes. I salvage a few; a piece of beetroot, carrots who had left its birthplace long long ago.
Lightly frying the vegetables in butter (I love butter), I waited in anticipation; I was hungry. Finally the wheat uppma began to take shape. I scatter grated coconut over it. Using the spatula, I create a dome of the uppma in the deep frying pan. It looks like a pie. A spoonful of Amul butter is dropped on the uppma and like a mason smoothening the thick cement paste, I lovingly spread the melting butter (what an aroma!) all over the dome. The flame simmering, I cut a tomato in the shape of a lotus and place it on top of the uppma. I garnish with wilted coriander leaves forming a design around the tomato. I close the lid and light a cigarette.
Sancho looks up at me for a piece of butter; we share similar tastes.
Not bad, finally. With lemon pickle and tomato sauce, I make a meal of my uppma. Life, I tell my uppma, is like you. Improvising with the leftovers, I bring in whatever colour and taste to it that I can. Life, I muse, is all about making do with what you have.
My friends! Thank you for your patience and tolerance of my rambling thoughts all these days. You have been a comfort and an absolute joy. I have always looked forward to your comments; never a day has passed without someone among you dropping a word or two. For even those who did not leave a note, I am content by looking at their exotic locations that I see in the feedjit widget; thank you for noticing me!
Its Christmas time. K will be home for vacation day after tomorrow. I will take a couple of days off, just to sit with him and perhaps we will watch a movie or discuss life.
May I wish each of you great joy and happiness in this season. May the New Year bring you a lot of cheer! And peace.
******** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 23-12-2010