Bhajiyas à la Grand-Mère


Bhajiyas à la Grand-Mère

Illustration: Saachi Mehta


ack in the day, before I had a badass beard and a nihilistic worldview, I loved the monsoon. The 12-year-old me would chase the rain – the soft, cool sensation of raindrops on my skin, the taste of rain as I stuck my tongue out, and the comforting squish of water as it seeped through my canvas keds. I spent most of my time after school at old Mai’s one-room home in a chawl where red Mangalore tiles lined the roof.

Whenever it rained, the cosy little house would fill with an unmistakable scent of those damp mud tiles, and the air carried a chill that made me want to stick to my mother. Until, of course, I was let out along with my coterie of cousins to frolic in the rain. We splashed water that collected in puddles at each other, fought, and wove imaginary stories, often pretending to be explorers walking through the jungle in the falling rain or enacting imaginary fight sequences, inspired by the many Kung Fu movies we’d watch on VHS tapes. This jamboree would continue until Mai would call us in. My cousins dutifully followed these orders, but not me. I was my own master.