He was growing up. Still a boy, who needed his strength to grow bigger just like his own brothers and cousins. No wonder Aunt Daisy believed he would be better eating his eggs! Her fresh and famous fried eggs from organic home grown chicken who never failed to impress her with the numbers no matter who were there for breakfast. Ah well, there is always one, she might have thought about the boy who hated the eggs no matter what. Forcefully he ate his eggs then not really giving a thought that years later may be he would like it after all.
He was third in the family, with two elder brothers and one younger sister. He was prayed for to be a girl by his mom, dressed up as one until couple of years old and named after their loving maid in Jabalpur, Ajee bai. Now, he surely hated the sunny side up eggs, but it was the holidays he looked forward to every year. Why not? They would board the train with their Mom to Palghat, and once they reached, from the railway station there would be a horse drawn cart awaiting them to be taken home. There starts the adventure of being pampered by his grandparents with sweets, home made pickles, and all sorts of food, local boys as playmates, the swimming sessions at Thampuratti’s Athazhichira Pool, then roaming around like a free bird as often and as much as one wished.
Visit to his father’s was where he had to eat his sunny side ups however nothing would come in the way for him and his cousins’ activities during those days. To mention his favourite dish on the menu? Pork Vindaloo. Yum! By the time holidays were over and it was time to go back, there was particularly one bit he loved the most. The pocket money time with his Achachan. Grandpa Martin would give him and his brothers silver coins as pocket money which he absolutely treasured. The clink and gleam of the silver coins, the smell of the envelope, everything was inscribing a special memory inside his mind, he didn’t realise it then.
Times changed. He indeed grew up and had to face a myriad of changes in his life. His brothers and sister settled with their own families, and he got to stay with his Mom and Dad. Responsibilities always came first for him and he learnt in his own way the mysterious ways of life. Years rolled on and he bid good byes to his Mom and Dad on their heavenward journeys. Married man and father of two girls, he works for the railways.
“I used to hate eggs this way you know Roshni? But now a days, I just love them and even have them in twos or threes! Poor Aunt Daisy, she would have been delighted to see me this way” He said to me with a broad grin while serving a late evening fried egg snack onto my plate, last time when I went home. This man in his fifties stood before me with a knowing smile that I knew the story as he has told me the very same one over and over again. Undeniably every time he told me and my sister that story, we glimpsed the same boy in his words. Oh yes, the boy is my Papa! These dinner times were our little windows to know how his childhood was, how wonderful those times were and more importantly should I say to know our Papa?.
Its true when they say you wouldn’t know the worth of something unless you have lost it or until you are on the verge of losing it. Same goes with people. Papa was hospitalised last year, and him strictly forbidding me from travel, I didn’t wish for more than anything that day to be just with him. I don’t have words enough to write about how I felt or should I say how me and my sister managed to stay connected over the phone listening to just his breathing? Sitting on the kitchen floor, flooding in tears my thoughts wandered on everything, but strangely it was these casual moments like him telling us all the stories, stuff we had thought of as really simple or stupid even!
Giving him a hug at the airport when I finally saw him this holiday time was the real Christmas present I got from the Lord. And then, eating that late night sunny side up eggs with him, I mentally did make a note, “Definitely Pa, this is going to be one story for my kids too!”
You know, I have often listened to people telling me “Oh how my Dad or Mom used to say this, love this, etc.” It didn’t make any sense to me until I had my own version of it. Sadly I have to wait for a yearly time to see my mom and Dad which makes me ended up wishing my Mom two weeks ahead of Mothers’ day and two days ahead in wishing him for the Fathers’ day! So what do I learn? There is never a wait for a perfect day or a perfect time either to tell our Papa how much we love him. All because every single day matters. He knows. And we thank our Lord for our time together. Love you Pa!