(image courtesy - www.adelanwar.com)
I am ten years old and being sent away to spend my summer holidays with an aunt in Bombay. Somewhere in my luggage are 5 or 6 packets of Britania Milk Biscuits. My aunt has specifically requested for them. Milk Bikis are not yet available in Bombay and somehow Parle G is not quite the same. It's a long train journey and it takes all my will power to keep from me raiding the bag. But by the time we reach Pune, I can no longer resist the call of Milk Bikis. To hell with it, I think to myself, I'll just tell her the railway rats got it. I grab the bag I know contains the packets and plunge my hand into it. But inside I find a smaller cloth bag. And this one has its mouth sewn shut. The witch! I dare not rip the bag open because that would be a step too far. Instead I sulk to a corner seat and hope that I will at least get some crumbs.It's been two days since we arrived. The biscuits have disappeared into the kitchen. But I have a good idea where they may be kept hidden. The afternoons stretch interminably and there's only one thing to do. I wait until I hear the snores from the bedroom and tiptoe to the kitchen. The shelves are groaning under the weight of dalda tins and grime-stained plastic boxes. I feel like a child in a sweet shop. Heck, I am a child and so on. I must make a quick move. I wildly grab the first box I see. Some kind of flour speckled with scurrying insects. The next few boxes reveal a variety of wildlife with random cooking ingredients thrown in. But I strike lucky by the time I reach the top shelf. I cautionary shake of the box reveals an unmistakable thud-thud. I open to find a half-eaten pack of my beloved Milk Biscuits. I hear movement outside. I have to hurry. I snatch a couple of biscuits, shove them into my skirt pocket, replace the box and saunter out of the kitchen casually.
Just having a drink of water, I call out to no one in particular, and now going to the toilet. I bolt the toilet door secure and reach for my stash of booty. Tears spring to my eyes and I muffle the scream of joy that threatens to escape my mouth at the sight of the biscuits. I sink my teeth into a small corner. And in that instant, the rest of the world falls away. It's just me and the biscuit. I want to savour this experience for as long as possible. But someone outside is wondering what's taking me so long. Reluctantly, I shove the biscuits into my mouth, chomping on them as quickly as possible. It's all a bit too rushed for my liking. But I cannot risk being found out. Tomorrow afternoon, I promise myself, tomorrow.
On Murukku, Elandampazham, Milkmaid, Maggi & Idli