It’s 2.05PM. I can see flurries of snow from my window. The third consecutive snow filled weekend. The kids and the husband have just left for the chess class. Apart from the typing sound coming from the keyboard, there’s nothing else I can hear.
My mind is wandering back to my childhood Pongal celebrations. I used to love Pongal because the festival will come just after our half-yearly holidays. Which meant, three days of extra-holidays. It would be even more fun if it falls right before or after the weekend. Five days of holidays.
We had a Pongal day routine. Appa would take the vengala paanai early in the morning and start prepping it for pongal. A piece of sugarcane. One banana. Ginger sapling. Turmeric sapling. A piece of Coconut. A small piece of jasmine string. A twine. And, Appa in the middle of all this. ‘Bring the screwdriver, Indu’, he would call out. That would be to drill a hole in the coconut piece. He would tie all this together around the vengala paanai and hand it over from there to Amma.
Amma would’ve completed her vege-chopping by then. Ezhu kaari kootu (slurrrp!), with seven country vegetables would’ve to be prepped for. Anyway, she would take the vengala paanai and fill it with rice and moong dal. As soon as paati says it’s time for the ‘ponga paanai’, the paanai will move atop the stove with some milk filled in.
By this time, there would’ve been at least ten calls for us (my brother and me!) to get bathed and dressed. Mostly from my paati, that is. Once the milk in the paanai is about to get spilled over, we’d all get assembled in the kitchen. Paati would hand over a steel plate and spoon to both of us to bang with and ask us to shout ‘Pongal-O-Pongal’ (even when we were in college!) We’d chuckle and scream Pongal-O-Pongal just to annoy her. Then, we’d pray before the deities for half a minute and fall in paati’s feet ‘cos she’d give us money. Heh. And then, get back to our work (i.e.) watching TV.
I’ve never understood how but by the next forty-five minutes or so, a feast will be ready. Mor Kuzhambu. Ezhu kaari kootu. Vaazhaikkai kari. Rasam. Vadai. Appalam. Chakkarai Pongal. Venn Pongal. Carrot kosumalli. And, we’d all be enjoying Solomon Pappayya’s Pattimandram and devouring the feast.
Today, as I made the Pongal lunch, these images kept popping up in my head. I get homesick pretty much all the time. But when it comes to festival days, I wish I can transport myself back to those carefree happy days of my childhood. Then I do know I am the childhood memory creator for two souls out here. And, so I try to do the best I can. I don’t always do but I try.