I was a tiny little one when I used to see mom’s come to school to feed their children during lunch break. A plastic basket filled with rice, sambhar, curd, vegetables and fried poppadum's. Yes, to most it would seem preposterous but I saw it every single day during the five years I studied from 1st to the 5th standard in the 90s of Bangalore. (And yes, it will always be Bangalore for me).
At that time, I was thankful to God that my mom didn’t do the same. I felt independent. I was not a mumma’s boy. I carried my own tiffin and ate it myself too.
When after two decades, I moved on my own to study in Mumbai, I fell in love with street food. Bhel, vada pau, pau bhaji and the works. But as the months passed by, the true blue Indian son in me started poking inside.
Through STD calls made after 9pm from public telephones, I would talk to my mom back home only about food. The hostel mess was a mess, sorry for the pun. While my dad was worried about my academic progress and my pocket money, mom was worried about my health because of my gastronomical misadventures.
And one day, she mentioned that my uncle was coming to Mumbai and if I needed anything? Before I could say anything she herself mentioned a laundry list of food items she was sending.
Next morning, I woke up at 4.30am and reached Bombay Central station at sharp 4.55am to receive my uncle. As soon as he waved to me from the S1 boogie, I ran towards him. He gathered his luggage, removed my parcel and rushed to grab a kaali peeli as he had an early morning business meeting.
And what did I do? Well, I just sat on the station bench, opened the parcel and smelt mom ke haath ka khaana. I could smell the ghee in the parantha’s, the mustard in the ghar ka achar, the spice in the aloo ki sabzi.
Tears rolled down my eyes as I took the first bite. Mom ke haatho ka jadoo…this is what I was missing. And from that day, I was proud to be called a mumma’s boy.