Musings for a responsible society

Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my vain!
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Cauliflower and Lockdown Inspiration

I bought a big Cauliflower the other day with the desire to have my favorite Aloo Gobi sabzi (dry). As we do not have the luxury of the cook (who is an expert in the preparation of Aloo Gobi) these days, I was absolutely at the mercy of my wife for cooking the dish. Everyday since the majestic vegetable was bought, I opened the refrigerator and found it continuing its whimper for salvation. My wife had other priorities for cooking!

Yesterday, I announced that I am going to make the sabzi for lunch. I googled the recipe of ‘Aloo Sabzi’ and picked up at random one out of hundreds of recipes. My only criteria for the selection was that the recipe should be from a man (Sorry if I sound a bit male chauvinistic). I presumed that men would be extremely sympathetic towards men and they would narrate every little task and explain things like a patient tuition teacher who tutors a student who failed Grade X thrice.
(Like explaining complex words like ‘simmer’/‘stir’/‘saute’ and help in distinguishing certain labels for which I do not have any clarity: eg. a. Tablespoon/ Teaspoon/ Serving spoon, b. Slice/Dice/Chop/Mince/Shred c. Deep fry/Pan fry. d. Grate/Grind etc.)

I followed the steps given in the recipe religiously. Thanks to the lock down, I was not in a hurry for anything (Nothing worth left in Amazon Video and Netflix; Corona analysis in TV makes me further depressed (Everyone is an expert); Fed up of seeing WhatsApp which is full of tiktok videos from everyone (from the priest to the maid).
There was no multi tasking. I gave my complete/undivided attention (except when my wife entered to snoop or to smell a danger). Though the recipe said the total time as 45 minutes, I took double the time. But the result was amazing. And I used just one spoon of oil (don’t ask me which spoon) and I did not pour a single drop of water (‘Raw cauliflower is 92% water’). Perfect outcome for my first ‘completed kitchen project’ (I know I am praising myself too much). The above fact was substantiated by my wife and daughter as they liked Aloo Gobi (semi dry) sabzi (On merits and not out of sympathy – they clarified). We had it for lunch (with rice) and dinner (with garlic bread made by my wife).
I have been an advocate of creativity. I gained tremendous personal satisfaction every time I achieved something or created something. I felt the same when I did this.

The lessons I learnt:

a. I took more than 90 minutes for making a simple sabzi. But, how did my wife or my mother or the cook made over half a dozen items within couple of hours? Cooking is really a marvelous art!! It is real hard labour too! They are definitely successful multi-taskers!

b. How many times I had criticized the dish without realizing the efforts behind its creation? (I regret..I repent...)

c. How rich and healthy are Indian dishes – with so many spices, condiments and herbs go into the making of a single dish! I never realized this before!

d. Even if cooking was easy, the cleaning up and washing the utensils take double the time. Our kitchen managers need an applause every day, for every meal! And a standing ovation before and after every special occasion feast!!

e. Last lesson (to men): I am tempted to say this: “Don’t repeat this so often. Declaring ignorance would give you plenty of time – to sleep, to watch movies, to read and to do nothing.”.
BUT..I would tell instead: “Get inside the kitchen to cook, to clean and to crack jokes”.

Life is tough. Life is painful. Life brings us so much miseries. Each of us have our own share of happiness and sorrow. But, there is no other way…we have to face them…

A Cauli Flower or a cabbage crying in your refrigerator can help you to be humble creators of happiness all around, at least for sometime! Rush…to your kitchen my dear brothers!

© Sibichen K Mathew Image: alamy stock photo

A Good Friday Nightmare

It was Good Friday night last year. I was in deep sleep after participating in an outdoor ‘Stations of the Cross” procession and subsequently hogging the left over bread (Appam) of the Maundy Thursday Passover meal. Past midnight, In the early hours, did I get a precognitive dream? I am not sure.
Heard a loud sound of a trumpet. I opened my eyes and there stood an old man!
I asked. “Who are you?”
He said: “I am Father Abraham”
Definitely not my school principal.
The song I learnt during Sunday School summer camp reverberated in the ears:
“Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them and so are you
So let's all praise the Lord.
Right arm, left arm, right foot, left foot,
Chin up, Chin down, turn around, sit down!”

I got up. ‘Are you the Yamaraj who came to take me?’.
‘No, but I can tell your past, present or future, if you wish.’, he said.
‘No point in telling about my past or my present. Tell me something about my future’. I said.
“Yes, your wish is granted”. He continued.
“I will tell you about your next Good Friday. Is that okay?”
“2020?”. I asked to make sure he follows the Gregorian calendar.
He said, “Yes. 2020”.
I said fine.
He started in a serious tone.
“On that day you will get up and brood as usual. Because, for many weeks you had not gone out of your home. You will continue to be in hiding for long. You will not know where you kept your watch for long time. You will not have shaved your face and you will not have combed your hair for long. You would not allow anyone to visit your house. If anyone rings the bell, you would run inside the bedroom and hide there. You would stop reading newspapers. You would have already stopped taking the daily packet of milk from the vendor.”
I became scared about my future after hearing him. What would happen to me?
He continued:
“You would keep the doors and windows of your house closed for weeks and months. You would be scared of the flies, the ants and even the air entering from outside to your house. One day you would come out to the balcony and start beating a steel plate with a spoon. Another night you will suddenly switch off all lights and lit a candle and stand in darkness!”
At this point I realized, I am going to be a lunatic by next year.
He did not stop predicting my misfortune.
“You will forget to take bath and brush your teeth. But you will stand near the wash basin and will wash your hands again and again and again. You will end up spending more time washing utensils and cleaning the floor again and again and again”
“OCD. Is it?” I asked Father Abraham.
He didn’t say anything. He continued:
“You will keep counting every grain stored in the cupboard and will consume even the last broken rice on your plate. You will frantically search all around the floor for that little chick pea that dropped from the grocery basket. You will never throw the first and last piece of bread in the packet. You will relish the thick black burnt toast.”
“Will I be in utter poverty? I lost my job?” I asked. He didn’t answer.
“You will spend more time in your bed. But you will be asked to work. You will work wearing a full sleeves shirt but without your pants and sit before a screen. You will be asked to hide your face and go for work, but you will refuse because you are frightened to be out of your house.”
I was in a shock. What would happen to me? Am I going to be mad, sick, poor, or a criminal in hiding? I don’t have a clue.
“Can I escape from this impending problem?” I asked.
“No”, He said.
I started weeping.
Then he said: “You are not alone. All human beings will be like you. All of them will undergo the same ordeal”.
I heaved a sigh of relief!
But I asked him: “Can you help us? Can you – the supernatural beings or messengers of God save us?”
He said: “No I can’t. Nor anyone from the place I come from can help you. ‘And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “
I begged and cried again: “Can you send someone to teach us and guide us how to prevent the problems or how to sail through this impending calamity?”
“You have scientists, policy makers, doctors, researchers, priests, nuns, sages, gurus, thinkers, healers, magicians and prophets. They have machines, patents, weapons, robots, prayers, prescriptions, cures and short cuts. If they don’t do what they are supposed to do, even if someone who died and reached heaven can't come down and save all of you!!” He said.
I couldn’t say anything. He disappeared.
I went back to sleep. I forgot everything when I got up. I hurried to get ready, skipped the breakfast cooked for me, rushed out to work place, to achieve my target, to have fun and to have a little pleasure and then came back home tired and watched TV, browsed the net and slept. But I prayed. ‘Lord, don’t give me nightmares anymore!’.
(The nightmare is personal and fictional.)
© Sibichen K Mathew. Image: iconspng.


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