Family, food and an epic monsoon.
As the morning Takbir from the neighboring mosque floated through my windows, I woke up to rain. I could actually curl myself into a slug and sleep my way through the day. But the thought of hot appams and chicken stew made my always hungry self get up so fast I almost had a head rush. This was one of those Mondays when I didn’t have to abuse and curse the inventor of the alarm for ringing and destroying my inner peace.
Here I was, a ‘Nair’ woman, born and raised in a conventional Hindu household waking up in a Muslim family. I was at my husband’s house in Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala. There was no other place I wished to be when I wanted time out from the hectic city life. For me this was the warmest and coziest place on earth.
The family that eats together…
I married Aslam two years ago. We did not elope or run away or ‘love jihad’ ourselves to get married. It was by mutual consent and with the blessings of both families. So it was natural for me to come back to my in laws home for Eid. In our family, Eid is a lot more than a religious celebration. All the festivities usually happen at the Tharavad, the ancestral house. The woman of the house, Cherumma (my husband’s grandmother) runs her family with nothing more than unconditional love and an incomparable wit. On family get togethers like this one, she walks around the kitchen giving instructions to her kids, occasionally making fun of their new recipe for biryani. She then settles herself with a trillion mangoes plucked from the mango tree she planted when she was younger, peels and cuts them for her children to relish. In this mixed family of atheists, religious Islam followers and Hindus, what Cherumma preaches is only love for the family.
Cherumma at the Tharavad backyard
Cherumma’s sons and daughters make it a point to come back home for special occasions like these, no matter how difficult it may be for them. And one of the major factors that binds them together is their love for each other coupled with their love for food. It’s not just about eating it, but the entire process of making it. Along with the ladies, the men in the house too are very concerned and interested in the making of the Eid Lunch. As the biryani is layering up in the dum pot, a delicious vessel of beef is getting ready. The aroma in the kitchen is so amazing, I’m torn between the fresh air of the garden and the inside of the kitchen. I wish if I could store it in a jar and smell it whenever I am feeling down!
My mother in law Asma in the middle of cooking
My husband has cousins more than the number of wives Lord Krishna had and there was no way for me to feel the slightest boredom. Apart from clicking selfies, they come up with games that have made up rules and we played all day, even cheating to win like our lives depend on it.
The artists in the lot were busy putting mehndi on their hands, while their little ones who are usually on an uncontrollable sugar high, screamed on top of their voices.
Mandatory mehndi scenes!
One of the other unforgettable things for me about this vacation was the monsoon. It was in full swing and was the best time to be in Kerala. It rained day and night for two days and I couldn’t have asked for better weather.
A walk to the nearby field
Finally after all the feasting and the mingling, it was time to leave. I packed my bags to go back to my techie life in Bangalore. My mother in law asked me if I took everything I need. And my last minute checklist goes like this -
Phone – Check
Laptop and charger – Check
Wallet – Check
Food that she packed for us that will last till the Apocalypse – Check
5 more kilograms added to my already fat self – Check
Bye Bye sasuraal! You will be missed!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Megha Suresh Menon
Photographs by: Aslam Yahya