Aji, my father's mother, filled this jar especially well. She added a few sugary kisses and a bag of lemon drop lollies, the candy she would send me on my way with. 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 grumbling 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 evening’s dinner was always curried, I would find my mother dressed in silk, sweeping the back porch. She would ask me to wash up 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 week’s ghee, and I would scurry away, over 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 butter and delivering it to my mother to simmer and sauté the weeks chicken and lamb and chickpea and potato 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, I remember the fear in my belly when he would give out a grin. I waited, drinking fresh milk from a small porcelain cup and eating spoonfuls of honey while Aji filled my mother's jar. Down the hill, my mother waited for me, only coming to see Aji when my father allowed.
After two seasons of honey and butter breakfasts and my delivery down the hill, we waved goodbye to our island with the hills. 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 out her glass containers, smelling of nutty butter, cleaning up after Jai Ram.
Years later, my father would occasionally surprise me with a bagful of lemon drops. I couldn't quite taste these without craving honey and the smell of sautéed butter.
Written for dVerse Poets where Brain is helping us share a childhood memory, or other bits of history.