Just like he chose a nice December day to be born in 1949, my father chose an equally beautiful day to die in December 2017. The last month of the last year of his life. The end of calendar years are when we’re all taking stock. Place visited, resolutions met, personal triumphs and possibilities for the next time we go around the sun.…
“I’m a good cook,” she types on the blank screen before her. The wheels of uncertainty start to turn in her head. “Is it conceited to write that about *MYSELF* on *MY* own blog?” she wonders to herself. It had been a year since she’d found her way back into the kitchen. The familiar movements with which she whipped up everything from eggs to 3-layer biryani were rusty. Her confidence wasn’t any better. But she had to write this promising essay to convince herself that all these years of painstakingly making recipes, photographing them and then typing them on a computer weren’t all an illusion.
“Sigh,” she sighed.
Last year was not a good year for her creative work. She spent a lot of time in existential surgery. Reeling from the death of her father of 30 years, Edlyn wasn’t sure if anything made sense anymore. “If I say this in a post, will people think I’m milking this grief thing?” she asked the other Edlyn in her head. “Yes, everybody dies. You’re not special. Move on,” other Edlyn said. “Okay.” Backspace, backspace, backspace.
It was true nonetheless. In her father, she saw unlimited inspiration. He was a marvel in the kitchen. He rarely had time to teach Edlyn (or any of the other sisters) recipes but she always dreamt of making it happen somehow. That way, she could surely be an even better cook. Edlyn did not cook like her father. Firmly in the clean-as-you-go camp, she recently realised more of her cooking was inspired by her mother. She got her crankiness from her dad instead.
His death was something she needed to sit with. “It’s not an excuse!” she cried. He was taken from the family very suddenly. The gloom descended without so much as a doctor’s visit. His death was there laying in front of her. She had no other way out other than accepting it.
Imagine tastebuds altering, lying on the bed with her mind buzzing, new food intolerances appearing out of nowhere, feet swelling, making trips to the doctor with this feeling that something was seriously wrong with her. “I’m so sorry I keep coming here. I feel like I’m losing my mind,” she told one of the 4 physicians she had seen. Edlyn could not peek into their computers but she imagined they were typing “hypochondriac” as she spoke of her toes turning black or that lump in her breast that appeared and stayed. She refused to put her family through another layer of grief on year one. “That’s why I keep coming here,” she cleared it up with the doctor just in case they thought she liked this attention.
They never diagnosed the swollen toes, the no sleep problem turned into a too much sleep problem and the lumps in the breast were fibroadenomas for which there is no treatment except follow up ultrasounds/mammograms when prompted by the hospital. She lived happily ever after with bat signal in the form of a mild burning sensation on the lump during ovulation. FUN.
She needed to remind herself that she could still do this thing. Last year some of Edlyn’s famous homecooking came with pre-seasoning packets and concept clean-as-you-go was more like pile dishes high into one side of the sink and then move it to the other side when she wanted to fill the water filter. Considering these circumstances, why would she ever want to photograph a food blog post again? For fun?! People were terrible and her father was dead.
It had been a year though so she wanted to try. If not in the same way, then at least in a way that would honour her father’s memory and the way in which it painted how she conducted herself in the kitchen. Also, her ma LOVED her blog from the very beginning. She missed that connection they both shared. It had been hard to write about her feelings. She was worried she would hurt her family further by bringing up her dad. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Baby steps,” she typed, “I am a good cook, but I need to remember why.” She was a product of two people who made eating a pleasure and writing and showing them they were an inspiration was a reason why this felt right. It can feel that way again, she thought.
This is a post within a post within a post, so bear with me. I opened my computer once when I was home in Goa and it was to write this, one year after my father died. I thought it wasn’t finished and I didn’t have the courage to post it so I shut the laptop until it was time to lug it back to another country. …
Yesterday evening was spent in the company of my friend, who also goes by “Luna”. It was spent dog-sitting two puppies the entire week prior to that meeting so it was more than generous to get outside these walls and admist some female energy. She’s a good listener. She cares a lot to ask not just any questions but detailed questions that you would never have thought about yourself if it wasn’t for her curiosity. Eg, “where is your favourite place to sit when you go back home?”…
Flour, salt, yeast and water. I put the ingredients into the glass Pyrex bowl I usually use to start pizza dough in. I’ve made this recipes more times than I can remember. Last year and the year before that, it was an almost every Thursday night/Friday morning ritual for us. Sometimes he would heat the oven and assemble the pizzas in the cast iron pans before I got home from work and other times it was my task. With artichoke hearts. Check. Sausage. Check. Mozzarella. Not optional and hence, check and check. Some days the sauce was homemade but there was also enough room in our hearts for jars straight off the grocery shelves….
Ginger and garlic are the two building block ingredients to endless home cooked Indian meals. It is the base on which many of your favourite meals rest. Although I have given you a specific quantity for the ingredients, you can always make extra and keep it in your fridge. It will last you up to 10 days that way and it is also easily frozen with a little water in an ice cube tray. …
I got to visit one of my favourite cities last month. What felt like a dream is finally starting to sink in as reality. I got to meet a lot of nice people from way back (it’s weird that I can say that now about folks that aren’t my parents’ friends) and new people, that I can’t really consider as friends but it was nice to know them for a brief moment in time. …
My nephew (two years old in less than three weeks!) does this thing where he covers his eyes tightly when faced with something he deems unpleasant. At one time it was a person who half-chided him for doing something he wasn’t supposed to at a get-together. For the rest of the party, my sister said, every time Jacob came face to face with him he covered his eyes. More recently, it was a bowl of mixed fruit. He wanted only the papaya so he shut his eyes while he was being fed anything other than what he wanted….
I had more fun than I have ever had gardening this year. Although it’s November now, a lot of the hardier greens are still going strong and because it isn’t quite cold enough yet at night, I still have tender herbs as well. I’d love to show you every single thing (in DSLR beauty) that grew this year – edible and otherwise. However, you can check out my Instagram highlight “garden” and see whatever I post there (when I post)….
As of April 2018, I have started writing on three designated notebooks that have become portals to my emotions. They live in various parts of the house; places I walk in and out of during what has felt like an endless back and forth of “if I sit here, will I want to get back up?” I haven’t ended up sitting for long enough to write down the stories that have been dancing inside my head. Believe me, there are so many of them. Grief is a monster and self-preservation is one hell of a beast….