Granny Tales 101: Chapter 8

Hello there! Moving at a rather slow pace this month with all the workshops that we are conducting. But can’t deny that dadi is always at the back of my mind. The tiniest of things remind me of her and after a smile you just tear up thinking that those moments will never return. What keeps you going is knowing that it all happened. She gave us a repository of memories that we can cherish and smile about so that she lives on in our life even after her passing.

So today’s story is timely. Any guesses on what I’m referring to? Well, if you said Ganesh Chaturti then bingo! You’ve nailed it. The festival is tomorrow.

The story is about how we celebrated Lord Ganesha’s birthday every year and like always, dadi’s enthusiasm for it knew no bounds. Since childhood, she got my sister and me engaged in this wonderful habit of making kozhakattais or modaks, a sweet we prepare for the puja as an offering to the deity. Her sister and my mom would be roped in too. All of us would be geared up a day or two before the occasion to get the stuff ready. We would buy the ingredients, dadi would ensure the vessels and kadais needed for the festival were washed and cleaned and my grand aunt would be busy grating coconut to make the poornam.

Poornam is a spherical-shaped sweet put inside the kozhakattais. On the night before every Ganesh Chaturti, one would find a standard conversation play out between dadi and aunty (my grand Aunt). They’d be arguing about the right amount of jaggery and coconut to mix to get the accurate consistency for the poornam. It can’t be too hard or sticky. Not too gooey or grainy. The consistency was key. Oh well, only they knew what they were doing! Our job started only the next day.

We’d get ready and join them in the kitchen in the morning. Dadi would already be hyperventilating that we were running late. But she would never scold us. Which granny scolds her grandchildren?

For a long time, dadi prepared the batter from which the kozhakattais and urundais were made. She had magic in her hands and somehow knew the proportions so well that aunty always took her advice before helping her prepare it. But in the last few years, she refrained from going near the stove and we began making the batter.

If there’s one thing you must know about dadi, it is this: No matter how old her grandchildren were, they were never too old to figure out a recipe that she knew like the back of her hand. So, she rarely trusted us with it and ensured that she repeatedly reminded us of the recipe till we got annoyed and asked her to calm down!

We all loved making the dish together. It was our favourite activity for the day and we always planned to do it more than once a year. The years she didn’t make the batter and felt she was too old to pitch in, we were determined to get her involved and put a smile on her face. So we’d bring her to the kitchen and make her do a couple of kozhakattais on her own. And mind you, no one made it like dadi. Even at 90, the dexterity of her fingers and the shape she got, were unmatched.

Apart from these dishes, there would also be idlis and sambhar and cut fruits for the puja. Dadi and aunty would prepare it all with all our help, them spearheading the entire process.

In the end, dadi would give so much credit of the dish to everyone else but herself, it was remarkable. She’d always say she barely did anything when she would’ve done the most significant part. Sweet old, dadiiii!

How we miss her! Oh but I hope that somewhere up there you are munching on some lovely kozhakattais and smiling at us to tell us you are in a happier place than in this world. You’re a person who taught us so much. We miss you dearly. They say that when we miss the ones who are no more, we just need to call out and they’ll be beside us to get us through difficult times. There can’t be more truth in those words. You’ve always been there, you always will be.

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