Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday Scribblings: Messenger

The Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is messenger.

Running down the steep mossy hill, thin sandals underneath my feet, I would giggle in glee, knowing that my mother would be so pleased. My bangles chiming, doing their own enchanting dance along my young slender arms, I hurried home down the hill.

Aji, my father's mother, filled this jar especially well. With her wet kisses and a few lemon drop lollies, candy, she sent me on my way. Our weekly jar of ghee, butter, my mother would wait for so anxiously. She rarely went up to Aji's house herself, although we lived at the bottom of the hill and she owned the house we lived in. I would imagine that she would much rather keep her distance from Aji, for her moments alone with my grandmother would probably be spent complaining about my father.

On those mild summer mornings, I was her messenger. Waking up early to the sound of bhajan, Indian chanting, the house slightly stale from a tang of masala and onion, for the evenings dinner was always curried, I would find my mother donned in sari, sweeping the back porch. She would ask me to wash my face and pick out a dress. I had so many, stitched with lace, soft cotton, and sewn together in her moments just for me. I gathered up the yellow one with a ruffled collar and three white buttons along the chest, a mirage of speckled bangles, I rarely lived without, and I would wander through our house waiting for a jar. My mother would give me an empty one, still oily from last weeks ghee, and I would scurry away, trotting up the hill. In all of my four years of life, this was my one chore. Hardly did I consider it much of a chore, rather a privilege being able to collect my grandmother's treasured ghee and delivering it to my mother to simmer and saute the weeks chicken and lamb and chickpea and ahloo dinners.

I'd sit at Aji's table next to her handicapped son, my uncle Jai Ram, he was much younger than my father. Not saying much, he would smile at me plenty, he scared me a little. I waited, drinking fresh milk from a small porcelain cup and eating spoonfuls of honey while Aji filled small containers and my mother's jar with ghee. And down the hill, my mother waited for me, only coming to see Aji when my father avowed.

After two seasons of honey and butter breakfasts and my delivery down the hill, we moved to America. That would be the last that I would know of Aji. I like to imagine that she would continue to wake up early those mornings, boiling, watching it foam and sputter, caramelizing and carefully separating. Spreading her glass containers, smelling of nutty butter, cleaning up after Jai Ram.

Once in while, my father would surprise me with a bagful of lemon drops. I couldn't quite taste these without craving honey and the smell of sauteed butter.


  1. That was so lovely. You filled me with warmth and nostalgia, thinking of my own similar expriences and losses. Thank you.

  2. What a lovely really captured how things felt to your little self..and warmed us all up I think..Jae

  3. Memories of Aaji, always a favourite. Really enjoyed reading this piece.