It’s been an oddball week.
Large snowflakes drifted past our window; the joke’s on you, Spring. Chotto-Ma’s skin was burning hot, her fever left us all yesterday. The snow too melted yesterday. I have a good feeling about the long weekend, unless I’m run over by an Easter Bunny.
Amidst insolent snow, and strips of wet cloth to calm a fever, a few good things slipped in still:
I read some William Trevor. His stories are so warm and wise, they never fail me. They walk and waltz from irreverence to scathing humour to quiet despair, but lightly like snow. That’s what his stories are like – frozen, splintered flakes falling on your eyes and nose, each one a different pattern, each one melting at a touch.
The book has his portrait on the cover; his face is kind, and crumpled like an unmade bed. It made me want to take out my pencils and sketch; I haven’t sketched in years, but I thought I’d try.
Chotto-Ma saw me drawing, and got herself a sheet of paper. Her William Trevor took all of six seconds, and one, cursory glance at the book cover.
This week, D took out his guitar, and played after a long time. One of my strongest and first memories of our time together, is of D playing the guitar, and me sitting on his old, single bed hugging my knees and swaying to the music. That was seventeen years ago, but it feels just the same. Last night, he sat on the bed and played, and he played me to sleep. There isn’t a better way to drift off into the late.
Apart from that, we ate well to make up for dying daffodils and a lack of Spring. I cooked Biryani, which is a slow-cooked pot of lamb (or chicken), potatoes and long-grained rice. It smells of saffron, rose water and spices dealt with a gentle hand. There are many versions of this dish, and in different parts of India, Biryani takes on a different avatar, much like its gods. But in Calcutta, the version that’s worshipped comes from the Nawabs of Lucknow. It’s a subtler Biryani with pale strands of rice flecked with the gold from the saffron, and not a fried onion in sight.
I made Malpoa too. Bengali Malpoa, with a touch of aniseed. Some we ate crisp and hot, the rest we dipped in a light sugar syrup and left to soak. It’s my favourite sweet in the whole world.
I’ll write recipes another day. It’s time to pick up a little girl from Nursery. Sweet ‘spring’, happy Holi, and a lovely Easter weekend to you all.