The Day Harry Potter Came Home

Every day, Chotto-ma eats breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a fourth meal which consists of devouring pages and pages of J.K. Rowling’s imagination. The Harry Potter books have been Daily Dietary Requirement for the past year-and-a-half when they first came home. She started book one on her sixth birthday, and I saw her world shift a little. She has been eating steadily through them since. She reads them, re-reads them and then goes back to the first book and starts all over again. Oh there are other authors in between. And there’s a book on Greek mythology weighing as much as she does, which she loves (she can tell you intricate details about every god, from Hera to Cronus, and their dark and twisted lives). But even gods don’t wield the same power as J.K. Rowling.

We tried to space out the Harry Potter books, googled them for age-appropriateness, but after finishing each book, Chotto-ma would sit in front of the bookshelf, quietly, looking up at the set with the mournful eyes of a cocker spaniel. “Wait till you’re eight” was obviously not going to work.

She has the final book left – we’ve managed to keep it for the school summer holidays, which means an excruciating wait of another fifteen days. This holiday incidentally includes a road trip through Scotland and ends with Edinburgh, where we’re going to do the Harry-Potter-walking-tour, and visit the cafe where J. K. Rowling wrote. The seven-year-old goes on her first pilgrimage.

While she waits this Excruciating Wait for the final book, she has decided to redesign the Harry Potter book covers since she doesn’t like the ones they come in. So the books have now been covered with white paper, and yesterday, she finished illustrating the first one – ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.’

For the Muggles amongst you, the cover shows The Forbidden Forest, with a dead unicorn lying on the forest floor dripping silver unicorn blood.

Here it is, from Chotto-ma, to share with you. It made me awfully proud.

Love

That’s my kitchen table this morning. There’s the apple cake I baked yesterday. My coffee. A yam I don’t know what to do with. A bowl of oranges. And linen embroidered by my grandmother long before I was born.

I just noticed how many round things I’ve put together there. Circle on circle. Spheres and orbits. I hadn’t realised I’d done that. I have a terrible cold – stayed up the night coughing – so I don’t know what I’m doing anyway, but there might be some subliminal therapy in circular things. Tai chi. Yin yang. Cake.

There’s something else circling around in my head. A poem Chotto-ma wrote yesterday. She’s been writing a lot. Suddenly, fiercely. Writing, writing, writing. Stories, poems, and a movie script called ‘The Blues’ where two lonely girls born with blue hair find each other and becomes friends.

This is her first poem, complete with her spellings. It made my cold better.

LOVE 
by Chotto-ma
Love is our 
own naicher.
Love is our
life.
Love is evrything.
Love is what
we like.

[Glossary: naicher = nature. We like to keep our spellings nacheral.]

Her first tune

One Sunday past, when the outside was still orange with autumn and not as naked as it is today, a little promise was kept. Remember that promise of music? The one I could see in the far distance when a piano edged in through our doorway, and Chotto-ma had her first music lesson?

Well, on Sunday I was stretched out on the sofa between a doze and a dream, and D was sitting on the armchair with his feet on the coffee table, when Chotto-ma brought him his guitar. She wanted him to play it while she played the piano. Then she sat down on the black stool as she does, feet dangling, back straight, fingers curved on keys. And she played. D followed her lead, and she took him into the tune she’d been hearing in her head.

It took me a while to realise something special was happening. My ears had been expecting a playful plonking of one of her lessons, but her book of notes was closed, and what I was hearing was her first little composition, her own tune. As one note followed another, I sat up. D looked at me, grinning, still guitaring along. Midway through their session, I remembered to record.

It’s quite something to hear your child make their first music. Somewhere between magic and a punch in the plexus. Who knew? OK, OK, you even cry a little. And then you try to play cool. You also kiss her and eat her up; for which you never need much reason anyway.

And then, with her little tune playing in your head, you go into the kitchen, to bake something you’ve haven’t baked before. But you figure, her first tune deserves your first apple crumble. So the three of you chop up some apples, tickle some flour, find the cinnamon, sprinkle the sugar and have the house smelling like November.

So here it is: Chotto-ma’s first composition for you to listen to, and an apple crumble for after. The composition’s called ‘Sunday morning’ because it’s what our Sunday morning sounds like.

‘Sunday morning’ Chotto-ma with Ba

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Apple Crumble

This is the simplest, quickest crumble there is; and adapted to our taste, as everything is. It’s lower in butter and sugar than most crumbles, but it’s also less tart, so the sweetness finds its balance. It’s good.

Ingredients

450gms apple, peeled and cubed (Gala or Braeburn works well if, like me, you don’t like your crumble tart)
A pinch of cinnamon

For the crumble:

300 gms plain flour, sieved with a pinch of salt
160 gms of coarse brown sugar
150 gms of butter cubed at room temperature
A knob of butter to grease dish

Preheat oven to 180 degree C (350F/Gas mark 4)
Put the flour, sugar and butter in a large bowl, and rub it all together using both hands till it forms  a mix that looks like breadcrumbs.
Grease baking dish with butter.
Mix apples with cinnamon, and place in baking dish.
Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until crumble is browned and apples are bubbling.
Serve with custard or cream.