“How come this year has so many festivals? It wasn’t like this last year! Or any of the other years!”, said the daughter looking painfully at the feast laid out on her plate. “This is like those stories of feasts thaatha used to tell us about!”
I thought I had written about those feasts before, but it looks like I have not yet published them on the blog. Will do so soon.
“Well..the festivals were there. I just wasn’t bothered to celebrate them all. Too much work you know. Plus when your grandmothers were here, they took care of most of these things on the day the festival actually fell, so you probably did not see them huffin and puffin in the kitchen. Some of these things you would only see the special things to eat in the evenings.”
With Covid days here, life seems to have slowed down enough for me to take the pains to cook a decent feast every now and then. Though my cooking is not facebook-worthy, by my standards, it is much more than usual, and it has the daughter worried.
Not cooking for the daughter is truly rewarding. Tell her to make do with a slice of bread that day, and she beams happily, saying she loves special days like this. Every time the husband was out on his travels, we would plan these special days and revel in clean kitchens and munch through biscuits and buttered toasts to our hearts’ content. The husband belongs to the unfortunate clan that thinks bread-and-butter dinners are meals for those convalescing in bed. Thanks to this attitude towards bread, simple buttered toasts have come to acquire an altogether special place in our hearts over the years.
Anyway, our stomachs are not accustomed to platefuls and after this meal, I set out on a small walk. The heat waves had subsided somewhat that day before they angrily rose again this week-end. Several of the areas cats were resting I noticed. I passed a fat cat napping on the roof, and it deigned to open half an eyelid to see if I was worth its notice. Considering I was not, it stretched a little and rolled over looking happy and content. I could not blame it. In fact, if actions could inspire, that cat certainly was inspiring. No speeches like Martin LutherKing for yours truly, a cat napping was enough, I thought wryly to myself. Maybe all we need to spread world peace is to have peaceful looking folks meditating happily under trees.
I walked on and noticed scurrying everywhere. The squirrels seemed to be extra active at this time of day. Seeing the cats all enjoying a nap and resting, this seemed like a highly prudent approach, and I sat on a tree stump admiring the activity around me. A gentle breeze stirred and my own platefuls nudged me into aspiring for greater things like the napping cat had shown me.
I came home, and headed up for what my father’s side of the family called , “Shhrama Pariharam” (translated loosely to mean a rest after tough experiences with a touch of a sacrificial air to it) . They would tuck into their feasts that our aunts had whipped up, and retire to snooze it off in the cool thinnai (a breezy verandah) outside.
When last we cousins met up, we doubled up laughing about this, but I found that this was the only thing to do after a meal of ½ * (Onam Sadya ) standards.
I must say the nap proved to be every bit as satisfying as I had imagined. The cool breeze of the fan was there in the room, and the carbohydrates were sedating like nobody’s business. The cells tried to wake up, and then gave it up as a bad job. I had a marvelous nap, followed by a crisp cup of tea and was reminded once more of the simple pleasures of life as it should be.
I think feastly meals are ghastly beasts and after every meal like that a nap makes us sharper and better human beings. It soothes the dragon inside and makes a cat out of you.
“It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon it says, “Work!” After beefsteak and porter, it says, “Sleep!” After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup, and don’t let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, “Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!”
― Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat