Those were the days when going on a vacation meant visiting our extended family
members in hometown. I did not go to exotic destinations in my summer holidays.
A trip to my maternal grandmother was most awaited. My other cousins , younger and
older , too assembled in the 'dodda-mani' (literally means big house in Kannada, an Indian
language). There was enough space for our battalion of cousins and neighborhood kids to
play in the courtyard. And there was a bigger space in the hearts of relatives who
accommodated us and our pranks. There were no project deadlines or school schedules
to be followed. The Sun, moon and stars dictated our time-schedules.
My grandmother, the matriarch, who ruled with an iron hand had the softest heart which
she displayed it at an appropriate time. We were scared and at the same time in awe of
her. Her work started with the kitchen and ended there. Kitchen was her playground.
Cooking gas stove and cylinder hadn't made inroads into rural India and my little mind
couldn't grasp the reason. Grandma cooked on a makeshift stove of bricks cemented with
mud. There was a huge chimney area for the hot air and fumes to rise up. Logs of wood
were used and fire was lit.
(Indian make-shift culha/gas stove) (google pic)
The crimson tongues flared up and the matriarch bowed to the Fire God paying
obeisance. All the Elements were worshiped. The food was cooked in earthen pots in an
My keen interest in the rural way of rural way of life kindled my grandma's interest in
explaining each ritual and need to thank the Almighty for having a roof over the head,
food to keep the wolf at bay and relatives sharing the common DNA for warmth and
comfort. The simple truths later shaped my raw mind.
After all the food was cooked, grandma used to mix clarified butter (Indian ghee) with a
tablespoon of cooked rice and offer it to the fire as oblations. The aroma of the food sent
my hunger pangs into an overdrive and my mouth salivated. The human senses of sight
and smell were awakened before touch and taste. Watching this ritual was sacrosanct to
me while my cousins played in the courtyard.
Water was gingerly splashed on the makeshift stove and the flames quietened to sleep
and rest after devouring 'prasadam' (offerings). All the Elements of Nature were
A pair of dozen plates appeared and grandma used to serve food and love to all her grand-
Last summer I paid a visit to my ancestral villages. Rural India has made progress.
Grandma's kitchen has made way to a swanking and sparkling modular kitchen and the
makeshift stove burns only in my memory. I looked at her smiling portrait with a
sandalwood garland around it. She has cooked memories for two generations, fresh and
This week’s prompt is . Campfire? Forest fire? Just burning your life down and
starting over? Wherever this prompt takes you is fine!