Mango: I miss my old self.

I remember the good old times when I was a part of a very very large family, happily bouncing on the tree and enjoying the wind, sun and rain. And of course, the journey into another world where we would all wait in queue waiting to be chopped up on the ‘katthi peeta’ a traditional knife attached to a plank. One would think that this was me being chopped up into pieces and why would I be happy about it?

Well, I felt I was very loved and cherished, each part of me would be nurtured in oil and spices and very lovingly care for and rested in a ‘jaadi’ a huge ceramic jar. We would be covered lovingly with a blanket of spices and oil and garlic pods like snowflakes. We had fun swimming laps in the oil and rest and occasionally, turned topsy turvy so that we changed friends and places.

Enough of my journey. What about yours?

Me: So, let me tell you of my relationship with the lovely avakayi pieces.

I think of the exciting days full of activity when the neighbors helped one another in chopping up mountains of raw mangoes and exchanged updates and gossip about everything including the latest movies and whether so and so bought the necklace that they were longing for.

Once the chopping was done, it was a ritual by a Rota to go around and add spices, turn the pickle in the jar, and check if ready for tasting. This is the most exciting and nostalgic part of the process that you all fondly recollect.

After the pickle was stashed in the right number of jars, the residue was the tastiest. Mothers used to swirl fresh cooked rice in the residue and add a generous blob of ghee and make roundballs of rice and serve everyone in their cupped hands.

To all of you, avakayi represents a ‘together’ time, evokes strong nostalgia when life was simple and we were all a happy bunch eating avakayi and perugannam.

To all the mothers who made this happen, I salute you.

M Prafulla
Hong Kong

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