Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sonic memories

Today, I woke up to the sound of the shrill whistle of the pressure cooker. For that brief moment, I was transported 7000 miles across the oceans and continents. Back home. To my mother's kitchen. Our weekend routine breakfast. Puttu-Kadala (Traditional kerala dish). The first whistle of the pressure cooker is the sign that she is readying the 'Kadala' for it's first stage of preparation. It was like a well rehearsed dance. Still lying cozy in my bed, I would continue making a mental note of her routine. The sound of her getting the grater out of the shelf, the coconut being broken in half, she saves the tender sweet water for me after taking one sip from the glass, the sound of the coconut being grated, the smell of the curry leaves and spices and coconut being roasted, the blender and the grand finale, sound of her setting up the 'Puttu' steamer. This was my cue to get out of bed. Perfect timing to freshen up and be in the kitchen exactly in time for the first batch of the steaming hot puttu-kadala and my favourite, the sweet coconut water.

So today morning, on hearing the shrill whistle, I dragged my lazy self out of bed and walked sleepy eyed into my kitchen half expecting to see my mother's smiling face there with the hot breakfast ready. The kitchen was empty, much like my life.

Turns out, I just have new Indian neighbors.

But to me, it was amazing, how that one single sound bought back such fond memories. Which filled my heart with love and missing. Also a teeny weeny bit of guilt. Because every single trip home, I always swore I would surprise my mother by waking up early and taking up the role of making breakfast for the family. Never happened. Despite being 30, when I get home, I miraculously turn worse than a 3 year old !

So that got me thinking - Sonic memories. I am sure it's not just me. We all have memories associated with most sounds in our daily life. Some sweet, some harsh, some bitter and some purely mind numbing.

Like the time the radio plays a song. Every time, even today, when this particular song comes up, my heart skips a beat and my hand automatically reaches for my mobile - Overwhelmingly numb.

Or the time the Jennifer Lopez song comes up, it reminds me of the time the super cute guy from my gym hit on me :-). This song had been my inspiration to do a crazy work out regime that particular day and said cute guy congratulates me for the attempt and even goes on to compliment my tattoo - Seventh heaven !

Case rests that I never wound up meeting the afore mentioned cutie after that, but it's been my inspiration to hit the gym atleast 3 days a week because you know, sometimes you never know - Inspired!

Speaking of ring tones, my personal favorite- The classic Nokia ring tone. To this day, there is only one person my heart fondly remembers every single time I hear it - My father. For over the last 16 years, ever since he has started using a mobile phone, despite upgrading the device to still-no-frills handsets, he has vehemently refused to change the ring tone to anything else - Deep love and gratitude for the one man in my life who has never left my side or let me down from the time I took my first breath.

Commercial flight's take off announcement - This fills me with panic and grips my heart with such fierce fear that I literally break out into a sweat frenzy. And no, it is not because I have the fear of flying. On the contrary, I used to love it.It all started when I was making my first trip back home to file my divorce. From the moment I boarded the flight and the engines revved into life, my first instinct was to get out of my seat, make a dash for the door and run for life. I didn't want to make the much dreaded journey, just to get there and end my life. What lay at the other side of the journey filled me with dread. I was, after all, putting an end to my life, going to make an ass of myself in front of family, friends and the general public, sign up for a life of being scorned, rebuked and disdained upon and in all probability end up being alone for the rest of my life. To be that weird old hag who lives with her 5 dogs and 20 cats.

So much so that, each time I board a flight now, I have to convince myself that there is going to be no courtroom drama at the other end, no counselors making you feel like a cheapskate, no confusing paper work to be signed, no looks of disapproval or animosity and most importantly no one with a name board reading 'Loser - You are such a failure'. Because when you are thirty and divorced and happen to be of the 'Woman' species, this is exactly what you are. A pathetic failure.

I would have assumed that anything associated with marriage would fill me dread and panic, but oddly enough, the sounds of marriage itself or any memory associated with it actually fills me up with fond nostalgia. Because no matter how the journey ended, the beginning was beautiful. The day of my marriage is still a very fond memory in my mind. Not to sound vain, but I was a beautiful bride. Dressed up in all glory. Everything had been perfect. I hadn't stopped smiling even for a second.The day was every bit how I had wanted it to be. I know I can never go there again, ever. Even if I do get married again, I know I will never be as beautiful or innocent as the 27 year old bride I had been.

And that is precisely the reason why, when my mother asked me what to do with the wedding album, I told her to save it up someplace safe. Because in-spite of everything that had gone wrong in the marriage, I still want to someday see the visual proof of the day I had been completely oblivious in a fool's paradise. Everything else from that journey has been burned and turned to ashes. Only this was to remain.

So folks, this is the story of how a single shrill whistle of a pressure cooker in the morning turned my day into a day of reminiscence. There are plenty more memories I can think of to associate memories I cherish and refrain from too, but I think this post has done what it was intended to do - Get me out of my head and into my blog. Maybe I should tip my new neighbors something generous, so that they make this a weekend routine.

I liked waking up in the morning, today.


Deeps said...

Nice read Deeps.. puttinte manam ivede vare ethi ;)..very true what you've written. really interesting how a certain sound or smell can bring back such memories :)

Deeps said...

Nice read Deeps.. puttinte manam ivede vare ethi ;)..very true what you've written. really interesting how a certain sound or smell can bring back so many memories :)

Deeps said...

Thank you deeps :) ! For a minute I was worried I sleep-posted a comment in my blog seeing the same name ;).

And the puttu manam still lingers, till I get to eat one kutti soon !