The other day I was sitting on my terrace, drinking a cool golden glass of mango shake, and in a flash I remembered my childhood. My era. The old bygone, but never forgotten days. It seemed so far-off, almost like in another world. It was a different world. I wouldn’t call it magical, but it sure was special. Before the advent of big screen LED/LCD/Plasma TVs, before mobile phones, before the high-definition era, before the laptops, the iPads, iPods, before the escalators, the PSPs and PS3s, before camera in a mobile ( If I were to tell my old self that, she would never believe), before online marketing, multiplexes, malls, before oh-a-lot-of-things. You get the drift. The modes of mass-entertainment, like mass-weaponry, were fewer but that did not mean there was nothing for entertainment. Children anyways have their own ways of finding and defining entertainment. A rainbow in a soap-bubble, a vivid pattern on a butterfly, the sweet nectar in a flower, the beautiful colors and unique patterns in a marble- all of this amused us kids back then. One of my happiest memories belongs to not a game but a glass of cold yellow colored mango shake!
How distinctly I remembered asking my mom for a glass of family-loved mango shake. How she smiled, looked so young (she looks my age!). Somehow we always think of parents as old. Why? She was clearly my age in this vision. I can tell because I am an almost-copy of her; same hooded eyes, nose, cheek-bones, smile sans the wrinkles. So young and yet so old she seemed back then. The arrogance of youth, I suppose.
Back to the glass mango shake. Another gulp (its that thick!) and another vision. I’m calling it a vision because it feels like that. I can’t say if that happened in the past or is it a dream or a possible future. I am not clairvoyant or maybe I am. I remember hurriedly getting ready for school. I am going to be late. Oh, oh forget the ponytail. Just put a green hair-band to match the green school uniform skirt. Yes that’s okay. Run. Run. Run. No wait. Breakfast! I shout, “No time for breakfast mummmmmy.” Have a glass of mango shake, she says. There’s always time for mango shake. Its liquid, well quasi-liquid. Won’t take time. I drink. Big gulps. Pause. Take a deep breath. Go again. In two shots it’s gone. Cheers to the rush-hour drink. Tummy full. Happy face. Licked the mango-shake stained mouth and off I go. Vision goes as well.
I drink much slower now. I guess adulthood slows down lots of things, but I am not sure if that’s for the better. Another gulp – another flash. We have our cousins from both sides of the family at our old house. It’s summer vacations. In India, every family goes or sends their children to someone else’s house or someone else visits you during the summer vacation. It’s officially the travel season. In my vision it’s evening time and the seven of us are playing ‘gallery’ along-with few other neighbourhood kids in the common park. The sun gets ready to set and we set off for home too, looking tired, dirty, dusty, but wearing big smiles. We know what waits. Mummy had promised it, as daddy had bought 5 kgs mangoes the day before. The smell of mangoes had spread in the four corners of our house. There were 7 glasses set atop the dining table. It had a hint of rosy color on top. So pretty it looked! Mom had added ‘Rooh-afza’ (the cooling summer drink concentrate). How it elevated the taste! Me and my other female cousin sat admiring it while the boys finished theirs off. I never wondered back then why were there only 7 glasses and not 8, one for mom. I suppose, as most children, I was either a bit selfish or unobservant. But I see her smiling happy and content. No hints of any want for the drink. Are all mothers like that? They would rather give than take? I suppose so.
Another gulp. It’s getting warmer and my pace is getting slower. Why we never hugged our mom and thanked her? She would go to work and before going, would make breakfast and lunch for all of us. She would come back home and make these drinks and dinner for us all. Never occurred to us that she might have been tired herself? Back then there were hardly any restaurants and eating out was an annual-special-occasion-only deal. Unlike in this era, where couples usually dine out at least once every week, back then that was unheard of. But I never found any lady complaining of her mundane routine, of getting no help from anyone. There used to be lesser appliances, so it was mostly hand-work, which made it more time-consuming and tiring. I can’t picture myself doing all of that and still wearing a big smile and looking radiant like my mom always did. Maybe she is a superwoman and we never knew. I wish I had inherited her superpowers. But clearly, I haven’t.
I take a smaller gulp this time. The glass has water condensation all around it. My old memories get deposited around me too. We are in the new house. We had moved after few years from the last memory. In this memory I am working in the kitchen alongside my mom. She is cooking something. She looks older, wrinkled and with greyer hair. I am grown up, well almost. I wash the mangoes, peel them, make longitudinal cuts and then smaller perpendicular ones and finally cut them apart from the center seed. The golden cubes fall in the mixie jar. I add sugar and some milk. I close the jar and run the mixie. Stop, remove the lid, add rest of the milk, replace the lid and run again. Mango shake is made. I pour two ice cubes each in the glasses and then pour the golden liquid over it. The last glass gets mango cubes that were not successfully ‘mixed’. Alas! I can never make it as good as her. My brother likes it this ways though, with the mango bits, while I prefer a smoother consistency. My mom smiles and says how it is better than her, but I know she is just being kind. I want to tell her “It can never be as good as yours mom.”
The glass is half empty. I leave the glass on the garden table. Where to? To call my mother. It’s not late to say ‘Thank you mom’. It never is!
And then? Back to the half-full glass of mango shake. There are lot of childhood memories to go through.. maybe it will remind me of something else too. A long forgotten friend or some part of me that I left behind..