The sound of rain changed from an angry uproar to a subtle pitter-patter. I opened the window to let in the scent of a rain-kissed earth. Gusts of freshness filled me as I took in a deep breath. The sound of droplets that fell lazily from the leaves on to the puddles gave a beautiful rhythm to the otherwise quiet afternoon. Instinctively, I had a deep craving to have crisp onion pakodas with my afternoon tea. This was something my parents did as a ritual ever since I can remember.
The rainy days
We become our parents unconsciously. We learn many things from our parents and the first emotion we learn from them is love. When I was a child, on rainy afternoons, we could hear our parents talking animatedly in the kitchen. It was a happy sound that was interrupted only by the sound of something sizzling in the pan. Their laughter broke through the constant drumming of the rain at intervals. This was their time. This was their rain-pakoda ritual. A simple afternoon but made so beautiful with the presence of raw love. The house felt warmer with the aroma of home-made crisps that flirted with the rainy scents of the afternoon.
There were many other rituals in my parents’ day-to-day life.
…and every other day
They always had their first cup of morning tea together. It was a daily sight to see Mom and Dad sitting on the veranda overlooking the garden with the morning newspaper, while two strongly brewed mugs of Assam tea waited steaming. The only sound was of their conversations and of the morning birds chirping. It was a comforting sight to wake up to.
My dad, being a doctor, had the privilege of coming back to lunch from the hospital. In my entire life, I have never seen my parents lunch or dine separately. On occasions when they did have to eat separately (when attending a party or a family function) it was common to see my father look out for my mother and gesture with a plate in hand that he was going to eat. If this was not possible for some reason, they sent us kids to each other to enquire if the other had eaten.
My parents gave great value to the time they spent together. They valued each other’s presence, to the point of sanctity.
Spend time together
There is something magical about sharing a meal. About having a ritual of doing things together. It connects a couple at an all-new level. The art of taking time and having a meal together has been lost in today’s world. Busy schedules and fast food often replace meal times with quick bites. Couples are often too busy to make time to do something together every day. Together time is moved to the weekends and often done as a chore.
Love cannot be scheduled. When we do that we lose the charm of being in love; and when that happens, relationships become a little less intimate. Although I’m caught up in this ‘quick-bites world’, I do wish to have a relationship like the one that my parents had. I’m trying to instill in my world a little bit of what they had. A love which found expression in a one-to-one connection, in things that mattered. I’m trying to instill in my life a love that lives, breathes and touches me raw.
“Pakodas!” my niece came screaming into the kitchen, startling me out of my thoughts.
Keeping the traditions alive
The rain had come again with torrents. We gathered in the dining hall with steaming mugs of tea (and milk respectively) and crisp pakodas. We sat by the open window watching the rain and catching up on each other’s lives. As I watched my sister and her husband talk, my husband looked at me and smiled, while he fought with my niece for a piece of the last remaining pakoda. That day, I could feel my parents’ essence in the afternoon. Of untainted raw love.