It’s been a very long time since we spoke
Even though I talk to you everyday
There are so many things I want to share with you
My husband, my daughter, my life.
I would call…
But there is no number at which I can reach you
I would visit…
But there is no place we could meet
So I hold on tightly to my memories
Your smile, your voice, your smell
The good times we shared
The tough times we battled
Many times against each other
But mostly together
We were a family, you and I
We still are and will always be.
There are so many things I miss about my mother; her cooking being the least of them all. She was a homemaker, though not by choice. She entered the kitchen only because she had to, not because she wanted to. She was a fierce spirit and stood her ground for her beliefs. She let us fly yet made sure we had our values in place. She took a great deal of criticism for the lives her daughters led. Her favorite retort was: When you point a finger at my daughters, take a look at your hand - for there are 3 fingers pointing right back at you.
She was an excellent chef, regaling us with new tastes as well as indulging us with comfort food. It was hard to believe that she didn’t like to cook but now I know exactly how she felt.
I was tagged for a meme about the 10 things I miss of my mother’s cooking by Mythili. I remember, I smell, I taste and I cherish as though it were just yesterday:
- Her chicken biryani was to die for. No matter what I do, mine just does not taste the same. It was always the star at Bhau-bhij potluck.
- Her layered fruit trifle, which we ate a lot of as she got used to the unreliable ‘gas mark’ on the oven (a lot of cake got burnt on the outside in the time it took for the inside to cook!)
- Fish curry and rice for lunch on Sundays
- Idli-chutney in my lunchbox on Wednesdays
- Her delectable nankhatai –
the recipe for which is missing from her blue diary
- My all-time favorite, her bhendichi bhaji (okra)
- Her khath-khatha or ravath-ravath as we called it (you get the joke if you can read Marathi!)
- Her homemade mayonnaise, light and fluffy, which spoiled all other mayos for me
- Her patrani macchi which was certified as authentic by all my Parsi friends
- Her chutneys – there was always one fresh chutney in the refrigerator and a dry chutney in the pantry
- Her pickles, one of which I made for the first time and is ready much before I expected it to be!
I also miss:
- the dollops of love and devotion that were poured into each dish
- the look of expectation on her face as I tasted something she’d have made for the first time
- her irritation with me because I reached out for the salt shaker or at being told the yogurt is sour.
My mother died in January 1995 after a long and valiant battle with cancer. The last month was so difficult that I was grateful when her suffering finally came to an end. She slipped away slowly, breath by breath, till her body relaxed completely. She looked very beautiful and totally at peace. Despite the void it created for me, her passing was a relief – for her tortured body and soul, and for those of us who cared for her.
It’s been over 11 years now and time is supposed to heal; if that is the case, why do I hurt more now than before...Sometimes I experience sheer frustration, at not knowing what she meant by that sentence almost wiped out due to a spill in her recipe book. Sometimes it’s the smell of Dettol that my husband brought back with him on his last visit to India. Other times, just the thought that she’s not physically there anymore is enough to set me off. And a lot of times, it is not being able to share the joy of my own family with her.
To all those of you who have lost what I have lost, I feel your anguish and your pain.
To all those of you who still have the pleasure of their mother’s company in their journey through life, treasure her and cherish her. You only get her once. She is but human but she’s the only mother you will ever have. Call her and tell her what she means to you. I would if I could.