Holidays means cooking innovations. This is very time consuming and challenging. This morning my adventures in the kitchen lasted a tad longer than usual. I was finishing up my ragi-rotis and prepping for ‘healthy’ samosas to satiate the junk needs for my kids palette and satiate my need to sneak in some veggies alongside.
The boys just finished their meal on the kitchen floor, as always, and walked away gaily into the hall discussing some scene from an animated movie.
“Ammaaa!”, Kedar screamed rushing back in. “There is a cockroach in the hall!”
Now, to give you a background, I fear cockroaches. My kids know that. I am their bait all the time – they like to scare the crap out of me by crying wolf, and then laugh about it forever! I fall for it almost every single time. Later I laugh it off, embarrassed, rolling my eyes at them.
But this time? No! This time I wasn’t going to give in.
However, there was a certain fear-filled quiver in Kedar’s voice. Sarang was hanging around in the hall. I suspected something here, this time God was playing the joke on me.
I told both of them, “Track that vicious creature and don’t loose it.” Then I sneaked up into the hall while my last ragi-roti was cooking in the stove. They showed it to me and I completely lost it. I screamed like Calvin – mouth wide open , eyebrows squeezed and eyes tight shut. Why did this wretched creature not make it’s appearance yesterday when Deepak was here, I thought.
I ran back into the kitchen with reassurance from Sarang that he was going to handle the situation. The roti that was, now, screaming for my attention. Uncomfortable whiney sounds started erupting from my throat at the thought of having to destroy the life of this yucky white-blooded insect, as I tossed the burnt roti and began rolling the next one.
What am I going to do? Somewhere, amidst all this, my screaming head was silenced by a rather interesting, deep, and insightful discussion.
One brother asked another, “if I invert a bucket on it will it try to fly? can it?” A panicked “yes” shot out of me, to which the other brother replied – “No Ma, roaches can’t fly, they can only jump!”. “If I trap it how long will it live? Will it die by the morning?”… their voices faded as my memory came rushing back to me.
Standing in the small, cold, dark alley next to the kitchen in the Mysore house, while my parents where away, I look up…. For some reason I was always home, with books, I would always find a flying roach reaching the heights of the ceiling where there would be clothes hung out to dry. I would have to hop, skip, and jump to the loo across the alley. There were too many challenges I had to face to get the job done! Track the flying roach, trying to be camouflaged amidst all those clothes in brightness of a dull bulb, watch-out for his friends on the walls and on the floor that may make a collective attack at me, and if clear, quickly make my way only to inspect the notorious loo, next. God forbid, there is one there – I would have to hold my pee till my parents where back. In case the loo passed my stringent inspection and I happened to release my bladder, I would have to do the inspection of the alley the same way all over again to get back to safe territory. And all this while, my only security blanket was the – chant ‘Shiva Shiva’.
After all this, I would wait desperately for my parents to be back to report the entry of this terrorist squad, so that they would blast them all with nuclear treatment and teach them a good lesson. What actually would happen is a whole other story – they would be rather irate that I was chicken enough to report this and that I couldn’t take the matter (broom) in my own hands! What’s worse is, they would drag me to the alley and say – “look, there is nothing there… even if there was, you are over five feet tall and that thing is an inch long! Why would you behave so irrationally!” I would feel like the roach-world just thrashed me to another unabashed victory. Besides, that was not a logical argument at all! Roaches can fly and escape my broom, they can land on me and shoot out their germ-missiles anywhere on me and I would never know it until it manifested into an incurable, communicable illness. And their army is so abundant in supply, where as I am only one person!
The memory faded in a few seconds and I was back to present as I heard the discussion about roaches intensified. “I saw it run into the bucket threw the hole underneath.” “Hey boys”, I said “did you get him yet? Sarang you are my hero, please help me. You are the only one who can…” I found myself become that helpless chicken-of-a-girl in Mysore all over again.
Just then Sarang asked a very pertinent question, probably an aftereffect of all the gnana he was passively absorbing threw my Geeta lectures in the mornings. “Kedar, if I block him with a bucket and he dies by tomorrow morning, will his family come after me for revenge?”
And Kedar, very casually, replied, ” No, they won’t” as though he had actually already calculated the karma, the causal effect of the act of violence perpetrated against an six-legged arthropod.
I found myself laughing and so happy that I was quietly witness to this rather intellectual but cutely innocent conversation between the brothers. Had the roach appeared the previous day when Deepak would have taken care of it, I would have certainly missed all this!
I then walked with valour to the hall brandishing the brahmastra that was going to befall on that creature and end its existence on this planet – the broom. ‘Come on R, you can do it’, I screamed into my head. ‘You aren’t a chicken any more. Do it!’
One last time, I tried the my ‘hero’ strategy I had at Sarang to see if he was going to grab the broom from me and showcase his real valour. But sadly, he didn’t. I took a deep breath, moved the bucket and dropped the broom on that fellow, he remained unmoved. Mission accomplished.
Next was the throwing act. I had to get back to my steaming-hot iron skillet and ragi rotis. I told the boys – watch for a few minutes, if he doesn’t move, collect him in a dustpan and throw him out. Kedar was very supportive, he said – ” Sarang, you get the dustpan ok? When you move it, I will help you push”. So valiant was my son! Sarang had had enough of Kedar’s knowledge contribution to this whole situation. He said sternly, “Kedar, just stop talking. I HAVE GOT THIS!” He was going to get the job done. He took the dustpan and sneaked slowly toward the squashed creature. “Amma, it isn’t dead yet. I saw it move.” “Is it crawling to the wall?” I retorted. “No just moving its leg” “It is now an injured three-legged insect amma”, Kedar reconciled.
Finally, I mustered the courage to dust it off into the pan by myself and flung it into my backdoor garden. The least I can now do it to make sure it goes back into Mother Earth’s womb!
Such was our adventure this morning!
What tickles me is the incessant chuckles that bumped me as Kedar read through this story with me at his side and said, ” Amma, you are really good at this!”