My mother’s cooking said a lot about her. She grew up motherless and whatever culinary skills she acquired came after her marriage, as a reluctant wife and mother thrown into a hard-to-extricate-from situation. So, it figures her cooking was unconventional.
Ingredients commonly used by most, like chillies and onions, didn’t figure in her dishes, instead ginger and jeera powder was liberally used. It created a unique flavour that is hard to replicate or find in anyone else’s cooking. She created recipes as she went along. She was an original.
In life, too, she lived beyond measure. She laughed liberally, took deep breaths, swayed wholeheartedly to the winds of life, without any of reticence that others showed. In fact, neighbours used to snigger at her love for life, her love of all things colourful, shiny…her childlike demeanour. It was hardly befitting in middle age, they felt.
Where she went she left tokens of love behind, small gifts for people, fished out from whatever she was carrying around with her. She struck conversations with utter strangers and managed to communicate in alien languages all her life, first in France and then in Mumbai.
I am grateful to have known her just a wee bit. The time is gone when I can reach out to her for wisdom, guidance and anecdotes. But her memories linger.
And her life added colour to my life’s blueprint. Both dad and I are measured people, predictable, limited…mom was all things unbound, she was beyond everything…