Saturday, March 23, 2019

For it to be a "Kofta Curry" day...

There are days that get etched on our mental surface through some very strange associations. It did take me a while to realise that in my mind there is a distinct nomenclature of some days by food items that somehow got coupled with the circumstances or moods of those days. For instance there are kofta curry days and bread-butter days while there are times which bring back the memories of the settings of my first vegetable manchurian day or that dahi-bhalla day. If I am not able to make myself clear by this brief introduction, don’t fret, here I am bringing a sample through one of my dear ones - the Kofta curry day.
It had been extremely muggy the whole day. In fact, for past many days, a blanket of dust had covered the sky not letting any of its hues to even peep through, what to talk of the sun. It was as if the sun never had any shine of its own, rather it appeared nothing more than a pale straw-coloured ball painted on a dull background. Its arrival and exit could only be felt through the day break and nightfall but its signatory brightness was nowhere to be seen. Well, sometimes a little child’s antics do manage to dupe the audience into believing that the gathering of Nobel laureates is indeed for his tricks. Likewise, the thick brownish grey spread was enjoying its spell, for a little extended period then as if testing the patience of mere mortals like us. Every summer, this does happen at least once, if not more. These are the times when heat actually becomes unbearable and the days seem to drag laboriously sucking every single ounce of energy and vigour that it spots anywhere. People can be heard talking about the weather and respite is sought desperately by everyone - animate or even inanimate perhaps. 
It was the month of June and a brand new academic session had just begun. I was still trying to get into the rhythm of the college routine after having spent almost the entire life up till then as a school student. For twelve of seventeen years of my life, I had belonged to the same educational institution. All of a sudden, it was hard to call this new place my own. So many things had changed in such a short span of time. To name just a miniscule of the almost unending list - comfort of the same uniform, same red brick walls, the arc shaped board on which the name of the school was engraved, the same school bus and the same bus driver who had been a silent witness to many batches crossing various thresholds of growing up - all just disappeared with the last day of the school. No wonder, I was feeling like a complete alien in the new surroundings as a small fish does in a big pond away from her own people.
The final bell rang indicating the end of another college day. It was a long day as the regular lectures were followed by a Chemistry lab session. Mixing some chemicals as instructed, checking the odour and colour of the resultant and measuring the final quantity - everything was done and the observations were recorded in the oversized practical notebook. Lab coats were off and packed in the bags. I headed towards my Atlas bicycle waving adieu to my peers some of whom were already near the college exit gate and a few were walking towards their respective bikes and scooters/scootys.
I had hardly reached the first turn about 200m away from the college gate, when the sullen silence that was ominously hanging in the environment gave way to loud rumbling of clouds. Almost magically, the scene got a complete makeover as if the sky was trying to cast away the thick blanket of dust with vengeance. In no time, it started to rain. Well, calling that thing ‘rain’, is a gross understatement. It was a downpour which seemed like the heavens above were incessantly spilling buckets and buckets of water over. There was no option of going back to the college, nor did I consider it even once. Riding fast in that rain to reach home as soon as possible, was the only possibility that I was focused on.
What a scene it was, nothing that I had experienced ever before, nor was there any chance of experiencing something like that earlier. Anytime outside home, it was the cocoon like protection of the school and of the school bus that kept me shielded from coming face to face with any of the elements directly and for such an extended period. Or was it something else at work that day?
I guess, I know now, it was the first ever - unhindered, unobstructed and unadulterated one-on-one with the rain that day and what an experience that was. In a very short stretch of distance I was drenched, no, I was soaked to the bone. And when that happened, almost instantly it liberated me in a very mysterious way. I stopped trying to cover myself from what was coming on to me. The head which had naturally bent down to reduce the impact of the showers, automatically turned up. Somehow, it dawned on me that what was coming to me was meant for me and I got ready to take it as it is - in its complete entirety and its regal opulence. Though it didn’t seem like a deep learning at that time but having lived such days many times after that, I know that it is indeed a very significant learning. Rather than concentrating on how to avert the situation, I was starting to enjoy channelizing my energy towards soaking in what those moments were offering to me. At that time, my whole being rejoiced in that feeling and the rest of the distance got covered just in a blur.
I parked my bicycle on its stand and rang the door bell. My mother opened the door with worried look on her face seeing my dripping condition but she was amused to see that her expressions were answered by a wide smile dancing on my face. I was shivering badly and immediately changed into dry clothes. I opened my tightly braided tresses and dried them with the towel. By then my lunch was already laid out on a newspaper spread on the bed where my father and my eldest sister were sitting with the bedroom window open. Clearly they were sitting and chatting there for quite some time and were enjoying the respite the change in the weather had brought. I was surprised to see father relaxing at home at that time of the day as it was a regular office day. I later came to know that he had taken half day off to attend to some bank work. I think by then I had understood one thing about myself. My spirits generally soared seeing happy and lively talk at home. I was already basking in the delight that the new understanding on the road had brought to me and the scene at home simply added to my cheerfulness.

Mother had served kofta curry with white rice which was not a classic combination. Usually kofta curry was served with chapatti but I have been a rice lover and seeing steaming hot rice in front of me just gladdened my heart to no end. Seemingly nothing was special or extraordinary, yet everything was just right the way they were and little did I know at that time that the same would become memorable for eternity. Many decades have passed since then and there have been some times over these years which have qualified to be similar to that kofta-curry day. It is any day when one gets to marvel at the simple joys of life which become extraordinary in their own unique way.

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