Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Grandma's memories

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. 

                                               Image result for Indian chulha

                               (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 

eco-friendly way.

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 fire. Campfire? Forest fire? Just burning your life down and 

starting over? Wherever this prompt takes you is fine!



  2. Your grandmother sounds like quite the lady! I'm in awe of anyone who can cook on something other than an electric or gas stove. It also sounds like you had a rich childhood with family surrounding you and shaping you. Sounds amazing!

  3. When they say "you can never go home again" there is some truth to that. Everything changes, for better or worse. It sounds like your grandmother was a great lady and gave you some excellent memories.

    I really loved the last line of this. Very poignant. Nice work!

  4. This post made me hungry. In a good way! I really liked the line "the makeshift stove burns only in my memory."

  5. Very nicely written bringing memories of my younger days when my mom used to battle with similar mud oven and damp firewood.


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