I remember from long time ago, having read a short story that narrated the tale of a young man who shelved his plan to end his life at the very last moment. He was tempted by the aroma of his favourite cuisine (puttu) his mother used to serve him. The smell of the fresh steamed meal whiffed through the air from a nearby restaurant adjacent to the railway track where he was contemplating to end his life. There was little time left for the early morning train to steam by and the sun was just about peeping over the distant hills. Suddenly he was pulled by utter craving - lust to live. The urge to live pounded him incessantly with the aroma that the gust of air brought- the smell of the food that reminded him of his mother,whiffed away the despondency that ploughed him under till a moment ago. He ran back home along the track and along the river’s edge that wound by, to his home-where he saw his mother was indeed cooking his favourite meal that morning. He inhaled the flavoured steamy air in the kitchen and felt a voice tell him that what a fool he would be if he had done the mad act when he nearly deserted the things that were dear in life. That morning he devoured the food his mother made and like never before. He relished it much, which words would toil to account.
The aroma of favourite viands that linger and whiff by unexpectedly and the titillation it provide for taste buds are sure to make all those who have known of it desire the pleasure more and forever. We all have, often in our life. So it was with amusement that I recollected the scene at the dining table quite a few mornings at a friend’s house. He has of late joined the club of hyper tensed people and is on medication for elevated blood pressure. I was speaking on the phone to him and his wife and could not resist the tongue in cheek comment to her that all those morning breakfast he indulged and went overboard because of those wonderful pickled dishes his mother was wondrously adept at making. Those mornings breakfast which he persistently used to relish- the previous days cooked rice soaked in water and then his pompous and arrogant discretion of mixing it with pickled brined mango and those special tiny heavenly chilies’ fresh from the garden (pazhan kanji and uppu mango with kandhari mullaku)! This he devoured before speeding off to college for work, while we lazed by eating like respectable people iddlis or dosa and even bread toast with omelet. At the end of it all I would prefer an existence laced with hypertension. The contentment is after all one had had the fortune to eat every day to the heart’s content what one loves most in life- a special preparation of excellent cuisine by ones mother. A high blood pressure is only incidental to the happiness of the soul day after day for a long time in life.
Thinking of it, I must confess that I drooled and drooled figuratively speaking I would have drowned. For, I have been often privileged to have food at his home and the simple mundane native delights his mother used to cook, though she was handicapped by paralysis from a severe stroke.
It is not an exaggeration and wee bit dishonest if I say that the aroma of those fabulous dishes do linger in that house even now though it is a few years since she passed. Perhaps something exist or stay behind even after we are gone?