Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mother or Not?

My humble attempt to test the writer in me (don't even know if there is one) for "Of Chalks and Chopsticks -- 2nd Edition".
The theme chosen is 'Food Fiction that has to do with mothers' which is hosted by Bongmom here and was started by Aqua. Thanks Bongmom and Aqua.

This fiction is based on a real incident that happened roughly about 17 years ago.

A little girl not so little in age, but little because she is the baby of the house will be left alone in the house with her maternal grandfather for a couple of days. She isn't fond of the grandfather (he is always bickering 'Don't do this, don't do that' to her), but has to take care of him while her mother is away taking care of her pregnant sister. "It'll be hard  even if you cook and keep everything ready before you leave to college" her mother says, "since Tatha (grandfather) won't even serve himself; I'll ask Atthe (aunt) to come and stay till I get back." her mother makes a decision.

"But Amma, she can't move around easily. I'll have to take care of two old people. Why can't I just go and stay at Mami's place and Tatha can stay with your cousin?" not so little girl is worried about taking care of two oldies who are siblings.

"Just do as I say. Cook breakfast and lunch and get ready to go to school. Atthe will serve Tatha when he wants to eat. She can mix coffee for him if you keep boiled milk and decoction ready. It is just a matter of 3 days." mother says in a tone that shuts the girl up.

Next day, mother brings home her aunt - Atthe. For some reason all the kids in the entire family call this old lady 'Atthe'.
Even though the girl didn't want to take care of the old lady, she is sort of fond of her. Why wouldn't she be?  This 'Atthe' is the same old lady who raised this girl's mother when her own mother died at a very young age. Being a child widow who had spent her entire life taking care of her sibling's children, had helped this little girl's mother raise four kids.

Atthe never went to school, but had learnt how to read and write looking at the kids' school books. She could even read newspaper.

I should say that the little girl was very impressed with this old lady. She had said many times - "Atthe if you had gone to school and studied, you would've had an entirely different life". Old lady would just say "What is lacking in my life?" with a smile, "God has given me everything" she would conclude.

Mother leaves to the other city the next day. Little girl is doing quite well managing the two oldies in the house and going to college. Next day she remembers that it is Gokulashtami (Krishna Jayanthi). Being from a family where this is the biggest festival of the year, she is sad that her mother isn't there to prepare anything this year.
This girl who is 17 years old can cook basic stuff. But thinks of herself to be a very good 'Chef'. "How hard can it be?" she thinks, "I have helped Amma make almost everything". She is keen on making difficult sweets and savory stuff all by herself to show that she is so good.

Her 'I am a very good chef' feeling takes over and without even checking with the old lady, she decides to make 'Rave Unde' and 'Ambode' for God. She has helped her mother make 'Rave unde' many times and she has ground the batter for making 'Ambode' many times. "How hard is it to make patties and fry them?" she thinks.

She roasts the rave (soji) and fries the cashews and raisins. She grates the dry coconut and mixes everything with powdered sugar and ghee. When she starts to make unde (laddoo), it starts crumbling. "Oh God, what went wrong?" she is so scared that her mother will find out that she wasted so much of ingredients. The girl panics.

"Atthe, I cannot make these undes. They are just crumbling. Can you fix it?" girl goes and asks the old lady letting go of her 'Chef' ego. She is almost ready to cry imagining her mother mad because of this. Old lady asks the girl to bring some warm milk, sprinkles it on the mixture and starts making undes. "Thank God for Atthe" the girl sighs in relief and starts to make undes with the old lady. She then fries the ambode and is beaming with pride ear to ear when both the oldies praise her for her work.

Next day, mother returns and the girl is so pleased when Atthe tells her mother how smart she is. When Atthe gets ready to go back, she says "Why don't you stay for couple more days here with us Atthe?".

Now coming to the recipe, this is from my archive. Rave Unde is 'Rava Laddoo'. The old lady in the story is my mother's paternal aunt who raised her and helped her raise me and my siblings.

A little about the old lady..
This old lady was married at the age of 10. She never even went and lived with her husband. By the time she was 12, her husband died of a snake bite and her life ended there. She just remained a widow spending all her life raising others' kids and living in someone's shelter. She had nothing that was her own. She was so beautiful to look, so patient with everyone and so smart, I always felt life wasn't fair to her.

I wondered many times and I still do 'Isn't she a mother even when she isn't one?'

I am an engineer at heart and by profession, not a writer in any way. I just tried this for fun. There could be many mistakes in my writing. I apologize for that in advance.

Thanks for reading..
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  1. Dear, actually this is a very touching story. I loved your atthe. Your fist attempt in story writing is very good. You have made us feel the wmotions you have felt for your atthe. That itself is a gr8 one. Try writing more u will succeed.

    Those rava ladoos are awesome and my atthe makes it beautifully :)

  2. That is a very poignant story Champa. My heart goes out to many such wonderful moms who could not become biological moms but are moms nonetheless.

  3. Hey Champa, you are as good a writer as you are baker! This is very well- written, I enjoyed reading it!

  4. Quite a touching post. Loved it.There are such 'Athais' in most of our houses.I had an Athai paati who was widowed when she was 10and was living with my Thatha.How cruel and again she was so beautiful. All of us loved her.Thanks for the wonderful write.

  5. Realy a very touching post dear and what to say... a heatfill namaskaram to your Athai and clap clap to this little girl... you are a very good writer dear beautiful write up Keep itup...

  6. Champa, this is such a wonderful and touching story..You proved yourself to be a great to see many posts from you dear..

  7. Thanks everyone for leaving a comment. I probably haven't felt this happy to read your comments on any of my other posts which might've been innovative recipes or a beautifully decorated cake. I appreciate your time.

  8. That's a nice story, and different from the usual mother and motherhood type of stories!

  9. Very touching, who says u r nt a writer? I enjoyed reading the narration.

  10. Very touching heart can almost feel your's true sometimes life is not fair but your Atthe was so nice that she never complaint of anything....nice writeup....&like those ladoos....

  11. Wat a beautiful, touching and nice story..enjoyed reading:)..

  12. Very touching story. I have seen many 'Athais' of this kind who have lived all their life for others. Good attempt on story writing.

  13. nicely written.very touching story...another feather in your cap! engineer, baker and now budding writer:)

  14. Champa, beautiful story, simply lovely and touching. Lovely laddoos to share. Keep writing :)

  15. Thanks for the entry. This was not only well written, it was a very touching tribute to your "atthe". I hope you tell her about it

  16. A very touching story.Lovely write up.

  17. Very moving story- yes, life is unfair indeed but it is good of you to recognize the love she gave you.

  18. Nice story! Your first attempt! I guess engineers are decent writers then! :)


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