Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sugar, sugar...

Just as she’s leaving for work, the girl digs this little box out of her bag and hands it to me saying, ‘Someone gave this to me for Sankranti’ and dashes out. I open it between morning chores and confusion and find nestled in a bed of roasted channa, sesame, coconut and peanuts, this little sugar pony. 

I leave it on the dining
 table. When the morning madness is over and I should get to my work desk too, I sit down to look at this translucent treasure.

How badly I had wanted these as a child and those that were brightly coloured – that sold all over the bazaar in mountains taller than me and blocked the footpaths. Mummy would pull me away if I lingered before one, amazed at the colours and shapes. We never buy these, can’t you see the flies and the dust, she would say. And the coloured ones? Tauba! Zehar – poison those colours are! 

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So we walked around all the fun shops and to the sanitized Goyal Kirana Store in New Market where she spoke in Marathi with Goyal uncle who sat behind the jars of toffees and dry fruit of which I had my eyes stuck mostly to the rainbow coloured sweet saunf and flattened disks of stringed figs. I would rise on tiptoes in my red Bata sandals so Goyal Uncle could catch my eye and smile and hand me a little toffee from one of the jars. 

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Sometimes, mummy bought me a seeti-wali lollipop and leaving me under the watchful eye of Goyal uncle, went to the bazaar inside.  I sat sucking the lollipop that coloured my lips pink but never whistled – only a minute spray of spit came out when I blew hard but no whistle, no toot. I watched the world go by – shoppers dragging crying children who cried louder when they saw me sitting with my shiny, pink lips, banging my Bata sandals on the little hard-board seat that had been carved out in a corner of that littlest shop.    

Photo from www

So we bought batashas only from Goyal Uncle who kept them stored in gunny bags and not in mountains on the floor where shoppers walked. On Diwali we offered those sedate-looking, round and hole-filled white batashas with kheel to the gods and then distributed it along with the mithais and namkeens to neighbours, visitors and the house helps. 

But in the give and take of Diwali plates, some bright and beautiful batashas would invariably sneak into our home and while Mummy was busy making polite talk with the bringer of the plate, I who kept a watchful eye for the poppy seed dusted anarsa and the coloured (the brighter, the better) batashas – hail happiness if there was a green house or a florescent pink bird - it would be quickly hid between the gathers of my frock and stolen away to the garden where I could suck on it to my heart’s content. 

Contributor: Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Library / Alamy Stock Photo

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