It was one of those days when nothing seemed to have gone right. I had left my, meticulously done, Geography homework at home. I had forgotten that it was PT day and went to school wearing my usual uniform instead of my PT uniform and was reprimanded for that too. Then I saw ‘Tinda’ in my lunchbox. I sent up a silent scream and slammed shut my lunchbox, catching the skin of my fingertip on it. As I already said earlier, it was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right.
I reached home in the evening to see Maa (we called our Maternal Grandmother what her kids used to call her ) sitting alone in the living room, eyes glued to the Television. I burrowed into her side, but her eyes didn’t leave the screen.
Annoyed I went up to my room and flung my bag on the bed and, no surprises for guessing, it split open and all the contents spilt out. I had missed zipping the bag all the way through.
That was the final straw for a 14-year-old me. I started bawling, and wouldn’t stop. Maa rushed up to my room to see what had happened. Try as I might I couldn’t explain my tears to her. She sat by me, talking about random topics till my tears subsided and turned to hiccups. She made me drink water and asked me to change out of my uniform and come down to the kitchen.
I picked up the scattered innards of my school bag, set it neatly and kept it in its designated place. I washed my face, changed into a comfortable t-shirt and shorts and went to join Maa in the kitchen.
The Tava (iron griddle) was on the gas stove and she was rolling a big chunk of dough between her palms. I asked her what she was making, and she just smiled. ‘I am NOT having Tinda for as long as I live!’ I said, loud enough for the neighbours to hear (P:S: I was a thoroughly spoilt brat. Also, I now LOVE Tinda)
Maa just looked at me with that smile on her face and kept rolling the dough that was now a smooth round ball. She began flattening it into a thick Roti (flatbread) with the aid of a rolling pin. Intrigued my eyes followed her every hand movement.
She then brought down the tin of Sugar and poured a large tablespoon of it in the middle of the Roti. Very gently she began spreading the crystals of sugar around keeping a mound of it in the centre. The deft and gentle movements of her hands and fingers had me mesmerised.
Maa began picking the sides of the Roti and gathered them in the centre of it. It resembled a parcel of gathered cloth. She patted it into place and began flattening it with her rolling pin again, and did so till it was a thick circle.
She placed this roti on the now hot Tawa and it began cooking. Before I knew it, the most delicious fragrance began wafting from it. Maa applied a generous layer of Ghee on it and turned it to the other side.
As the roti cooked it smelled even more heavenly. By now I was salivating even as my eyes were glued to that disk on the tava.
As Maa turned the roti once again, a glossy brown sheet was visible on top. The sugar had caramelised. A few more deft turns and the perfectly cooked roti was in a plate before me.
I breathed in the fragrance before a broke off a piece of it. The texture was soft and silky inside and it had a crisp top that crackled as it snapped. I took a bite of it and my tastebuds did a mad dance!
‘Maa!’ I exhaled and looked up to see her smiling at the wonderment in my eyes.
‘Who knew wheat flour, ghee and sugar could taste this good, huh? That too when it isn’t a Halwa!’ she laughed.
I just nodded in reply, as my hands and mouth were busily devouring this decadence.
‘Much like life and our days, Mayuri. Sometimes we don’t know what will bring what result. Like I didn’t know that plain white sugar would melt and form this beautiful crisp layer. Many different things happen, but if you are patient enough and ingenious enough to bring your experiences together you can make something wonderful out of them.
‘Like this Meethi roti? I asked. ‘Yes, like this Meethi Roti’ Maa smiled.
This is a true story.