Perception

Perception

The crashing sound woke me up from my deep slumber. Had the sound been not so loud, I would have slept for another hour. Mine is  deep sleep, so deep that if a bomb were to explode beside me, I wouldn’t know. Then how come the sound pulled me off the bed? Because it was from the kitchen. My kingdom, my empire…

Oh God, has my son dropped something from my precious kitchenware collection. I jumped out of bed and reached my kingdom in a second. And lo behold! What do I see? My son- and daughter-in-law are all set…. Something in the kitchen…. An invention, an innovation, a creation, a discovery or a  makeover?

“What?” My expression would have struck them as ECCENTRIC, their reaction confirmed it.

I saw a glass bowl (expensive!), a whipper, a pan on the stove, a few spoons, ladles, SPATULA (I have learnt the word recently), all the paraphernalia for the big event—making an omelette.(?!)

I looked around to see what had crashed; the glass bowl was intact, the glass jar too was in one piece(to my peace of mind). Seeing my odd expression, my son said, “What amma? You want something? You were fast asleep a while ago and now suddenly in the kitchen….” His unsaid words were quite obvious.(Why are you poking your nose…. types).

I stammered, “S…. some crashing sound from the kitchen got me on my feet. Ok, Ok, carry on, I won’t disturb you, anyway I can’t stand the smell..” I murmured as I left the kitchen.  

“Amma, just pass on the green chilies…” I was in for a shock when I opened the fridge. The ice tray was stacked with ICEggs…….  (I remember pouring Řásná into these trays in that era of Rasna). The yolk had made strange patterns on the surface of the cube. Funny, I thought. Did I appreciate the look of the cube?

As I sauntered towards my bedroom, I could feel the house dipped in egg smell (aroma for them). Egg bhurji, egg biryani…..the faint words reached my sharp ears.

Believe me when someone refers to brinjal as EGG PLANT, I take a step back as though the very word has pierced me through! Naheeeennnn…. I feel like screaming, my favourite veggie, the glistening violet, muscular, fleshy brinjal being called by a name that was a bane in the family for long(the era of grandparents and mom) and now, an era has dawned when I see my holy kitchen being invaded by the remnants of shells, the kitchenware sticky with the white and yellow of the EGGGGGG! The veggie- lentil-centric empire now has odd glimpses of EGG-Centric fridge, kitchen platform, pan and spatula.

Oh! I have digressed from the key issue, haven’t I? Yes, so coming back to the crash…. it was the egg being broken(very tenderly, affectionately and all ‘-lys’ that fail to come into my mind). It sounds hyperbolic (egg-xaggerated) but the crashing sound was unmistakably that of the egg. My subconscious mind has always been alive to sounds of cracking, crushing and crashing. Call it intuition or eccentricity, my keen sense of hearing has always been lauded since my childhood. A pin -dropping, a twig silently disintegrating from the bough, found their way into my ear silently! That’s my ear-centric eccentricity. Each to his/ her idiosyncrasies!

I have always had this fear(?) of eggs in my kitchen. I have been avoiding the thought of hearing the hitting, cracking, whipping, whisking (thrashing the life out of it) sounds in my kitchen. The fear has been more psychological and physical than religious, like it is a bane in the holy Brahminical community, to look at an egg (forget touch or feel the texture), it is akin to sinning against God.

My imagination is running amuck.

I hear the gentle spoon-tap on the eggshell; I visualize the initial cracks appearing on the hard, outer layer, I see the white, thick semi solid part filling up the gaps and oozing out, and then the BIG BANG, the ultimate smash, cracking it into almost two equal halves, the white and the yellow (YOLK) flowing out generously, passionately into the bowl. For scrambled egg, beating it furiously, vigorously to get the foam and then adding the other ingredients to get the required texture and taste…… for fluffy omelette, stirring it, whisking it till it screams out in pain….

 I AM DONE! I see the cracked eggs leaking, smelling, splashed on the tiled walls of the kitchen platform, I dream of the ‘would have been chic’ groan in pain and I remember the words of a wise guy-

If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends.

If the egg is broken by an inside force, then life begins…… great things happen from inside.”

(POPSUGAR)

But we haven’t given them the opportunity to tap the shell from within, crack it, peep out and step into this world.; if that were to happen then the egg-centric world will go without egg-tarians!  No scrambling for scrambled eggs, no beating (around the bush?) for omelette, no whipping, no whisking, no cracking. Life would be so smooth ‘with eggs in their right place, all is well with the world’ 

(God is in Heaven, all is well with the world- Pippa Passes by Robert Browning)

My liberal (?) thoughts on eggs got me into a haze. My head became wooly wooly. I told myself -you can’t be so thick about this egg-centric world. The more averse you feel for this cute, little, white (nowadays there are light brown ones also, organic ones!) oval-shaped creatures, the more inroads it will make into your life. As it goes—deeper the aversion, deeper the memory. My waking and sleeping hours are now marked with the sounds of eggs cracking, splashing, frying. My kitchen has become a fortress for these edible things to breathe in and breathe out. The broken shells, the walls, and the yolk, the wall  paint; I find the egg-shaped bulbs dripping, not just yellow light but tons of fluid!

Oh! Is my aversion becoming my obsession?

I couldn’t help appreciating the scheme of the creation. One’s life is another’s nutrition!(One man’s income is another man’s expenditure) If fertilised and hatched, life finds its way out of it and if sold in its primeval form, it finds its way into the pan.

…………………………………………

I looked around and ensured that no one was around. I dragged the ladder, climbed  carefully and touched the greasy and sticky kitchen roof. I quickly removed my hand as though stung. I was about to embark upon an ‘egg-austive’ purification ceremony. You may wonder in this modular kitchen,  hob–chimney era, why would the roof get thatched with the oil and remnants of an egg? (might have spluttered, might have splashed, might have…. Anything can happen with a pan full of eggs!( A lot can happen over coffee!   –  Café’ Coffee Day). It can’t be ruled out, not with my wild imagination close on my heels!

My eccentric nature refused to give in to the demands of the changing times that expected me to be accommodative. It was more of my obstinacy than any sacredness issue that refuted the sneaking of ‘egg world’ into my possessed prize- the kitchen. My world centred around the kitchen. I feel like a crowned queen, enjoying the liberty to experiment, to feel the joy of selecting, rejecting,  choosing… ingredients of ‘my choice’ and preparing delicious dishes and finding my way into the hearts of my family. So how could I even think of intrusion, invasion into the heart of the house?

I sound so cheesy, I know, butI can’t help being possessive.

As I took out the wet cloth tucked in my apron, to wipe the ‘egg-oiled roof’, I noticed fissures and something leaking through the cracks. I almost shrieked and was about to jump off the ladder. What weird things are happening?

More was to come.

I felt searing pain as something sharp pierced through my eye, making it ooze out a thick and smelly liquid. I know blood is thicker than water, but blood can’t be so thick and smelly! It was trickling onto my cheeks and slowly finding its way over my nose and on to my chin… I was panicky. I tried to pluck that sharp object from my eye but failed miserably. Perhaps it has been  hunting me for quite some time and having found its target refused to leave. As adamant as the owner of the eye!

As I was trying to balance myself holding on to the roof with one hand and trying to pull off the sharp weapon(?) that was hurting my eye,  the ladder hit the wall turning the much -coveted wall clock, upside down. Time stood still.  (How thoughtless of me to have insisted on mounting a wall clock in the kitchen to track time).

‘Haphazard’ is what my family would have said about my acrobats on the ladder. Never mind what they would have said, for ‘it is their birth right to give their opinion loud out!’ (Freedom/ Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it–Tilak). Thinking skill was at its peak, of course it had to be, after all I was on the topmost step of the ladder! Egg-ceptional thought!

So as I did the balancing act, as though it was a tightrope walk, I gained confidence about my skills and abilities. If I can climb the ladder and not faaaalllll…… ohhhh…..

…..crash came the ladder with me entangled in it, how do I disentangle myself? I frantically searched for my head and toes, were they intact and in their respective grooves? Oh, yeah! I was sane. Couldn’t have asked for more!

(Even in that hour of panic I remembered my mother’s wise words, ‘never ever disrespect others’ food, you never know  it could be your succour  in dire circumstances.’ Where was my worldly wisdom all this while? The muse of reason struck me at the right place, bringing all my senses into their respective places. What a way to learn life lessons!)

With renewed spirit I restructured my understanding of creation- The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever will be born must destroy a world.   – Hermann Hesse

Something crumbles to give rise to something else. Life goes in a circle! Such a simple reality and I have been going around it but never into it. A bud blossoms into a flower, a woman brings another human into the world; it is a change from one form to another, a transformation, to perpetuate creation. The destruction of the original is the creation of new!

I have learnt to respect the eggs-traordinary essence of life.

 ……………………………..

I bumped my head against the backrest and groaned in pain. I rubbed my eyes and looked around.. Where was the ladder and the sharp thing poking my eye? What about the thick liquid flowing through the creeks? Did I swallow it or had it egg-aporated? I looked at my eyes- sparkling, overslept red eyes glared at me, as though questioning my existence. ‘You daydreamer! What egg-coction is there in your head?’ Weird hallucinations.

I said my early morning prayers( Karaagre vasathe…… and as I about to put my feet on the floor (actually carpet) Bhoodevi gently reminded me( Mother Earth) what about… ‘Samudra vasane devi…. Paada sparsam kshamasvame’. I bowed to her and slowly peeped into the kitchen from the doorway of my bedroom. It was quiet. Egg-ceptionally quiet.

                Whither is fled the visionary gleam?

               Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

 Has it

            ‘faded into the light of the common day?’

          William Wordsworth

Oh my! ‘prabhate kara darsanam…?’ It is evening. Where is lunch? Or have they skipped lunch after the egg-breaking fast? But what about me? I am famished. I walk into the kitchen hesitantly holding my breath. I look at the ceiling and burst into laughter. Soooo relieved; no cracks, no ladder, nothing dangling from the roof. MY kitchen, MY empire, my kingdom was spic and span, no traces of egg splashed over the tiles, no smell of the beaten, whisked eggs, no…nothing.

Ah! What an obnoxious dream!

 The refreshing aroma of the kitchen tickled my nostrils, and I caressed the fridge, hugged the kitchen cupboards, touched the cutlery gently feeling the warmth of the hob and the chimney. The cooker still warm, the Borosil glass bowls neatly covered with steel lids, one dining plate neatly tucked in the rack.(I know it is waiting for me). The crispy smell of aloo fry, the spicy sambar, and the yummy coconut chutney blew my head off. UMMMM! They did not want to disturb my sleep, how thoughtful. I appreciated their concern and affection.

I grabbed the plate, put a heap of rice, added loads of ghee and filled my plate with all the delicious items, sat at the dining table and switched on the TV.

“…. My special dish today is EGGGGGGGG……”

I did not recoil.  
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9 thoughts on “Perception

  1. I fall short of words to describe how this storyline is packed with funny punches, before you recover from one another hits you. Kudos to the author in bringing out humor, wit, nostalgia, subtle sarcasm and contemporary flair into one story. Superb piece of fiction and writing.

  2. What a remarkable piece of fiction! The blend of sarcasm, irony and witty remarks. Love the way you have twisted the words wrapping up the phobia of egg in it. Excellent!

  3. Very well written with great flow of events that kept me in grip throughout. Something that every mother experiences in kitchens, put on paper with perfection and great imagination. Egg cellent!!

  4. So many quotes inside the shell. She has used the word eggsactly as a person with culinary casteist tendencies would experience. But the breaking out of the shell to evolve is a beautiful experience. However the story also hints to us that at the end in spite of all our learning and reading we fall back into habits. So it is important to break habits of thinking and doing. What a hard egg to crack! . It still comes full circle. Like an egg to an omellette. Or is it “I am let” In to the kitchen – in quotes since the story is full of them.

    The writer has used the prompt v. Creatively peppering it with quotes and insights from literature and insides of the Indian housewives psyche. Finally it has to find an order in all the disorder, and that after all is thr strength the world has because there are still women around.

  5. Shashikala, I must say you have an art of writing. Wow, I was awe stuck reading the narration of just what shattered in the kitchen and I was hooked with the story since then. Very humorous and relatable. My daughter just turned 10 and sometime she wants to cook something easy(like anything with egg), and I start shaking as what is going to happen next in the kitchen; what will break; what will shatter. The ‘Eggplant’ was a completely separate tale you have narrated which was so hilarious. Loved every bit of your story.

    Please keep coming with your wonderful stories.

  6. Fascinating analysis with humor packed punches which have lots of meaning behind. I was curious about what could be the next line/ paragraph in this story. Great work and I must congratulate the author in projecting the analysis in a beautiful way

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