How do you handle grief? How do you handle the loss of the nearest one and at the same time, struggle and fight for your life.
I rarely pour my heart out here. When I look back, I think I should have. The blog will remain a partial documentation for Tugga and Brishti and the untold stories that they are supposed to know in the future.
Truth is stranger than fiction ..
I lost Ma in the early hours of 26th April 2021. I was Covid positive at that point in time, as was Madhushree. We couldn’t accompany her for her final rites. My health worsened drastically after that. So much so, that I had to be hospitalised in a critical condition on the 3rd of May. It was a near-death threat and after 11 days I returned home. I was 6 Kgs lighter, had multiplier perforations on the body for IV channels, and had donated almost 1 litre of blood for blood tests (I didn’t measure though but a strong feeling)
The thought of Ma not being there was hurting me and the first thought which struck me when I was on my way back home from the hospital was – no longer I can say – ‘Ma I’m back home.’
It was two weeks after I came back home, on a Sunday lunch, my favourite Mangshor Jhol (mutton curry) with Alu was made. Like many, for me, Mangshor Jhol is an emotion for a Sunday Lunch. After a very heart-rending lunch and loads of tears, I wrote this on my Instagram handle –
Since the time I am home, I’ve been craving for Mangsher Jhol. It was a perfect setting today. It’s 10 days I’m back, each step, taste, and even smell seems new. There have been hits and misses and like a new Sarod, the strings of taste need to be fine-tuned to the scale of sweet and salt.
The ultimate breakdown over a whistle of a pressure cooker
The Pressure cooker whistled at the right time to confirm Sunday lunch was ready. All it needed was the whistle of the pressure cooker releasing the steam, assuring a safe landing of the much-coveted, delicious Bengali Mangsher jhol. That’s all I needed to break down, let the steam of emotions, tears coupled with memories blow out. Madhushree held me tight, Tugga was staring in surprise
Ma has been my Mangsho eating partner at home since my birth as Baba didn’t have mutton. Love got shared, bonding strengthened over half aloo, a little more jhol and her, giving away the larger piece of mutton to me. After Baba passed away, we didn’t allow her to turn vegetarian. Mutton was always her favourite. In the last 4 years, when she had been bedridden with paralysis and an acute case of Pancreatitis, we fought like father-daughter that she should have less mutton. The daughter was stubborn and reverse-aged. With almost no tooth at all, single hand to manage the pieces, she was a distant past of herself but after every meal with mutton, one could see the satisfaction on her face. We always used to joke – you can feed her the same mutton for 7 days and she won’t complain but try to give her anything else for two consecutive meals and she will send the food back.
As I fiercely oscillated between the holy trinity of Mangsho, Jhol, and Alu, I was like a possessed man. The fresh wounds which would perhaps never heal made their presence felt. The feeling of not accompanying her for her last journey came haunting.
Memories of eating non-veg and chicken and mutton with her came back. Moglai Parota and chop and telebhaja at Chandannagore, fresh fish fried at the beaches of Puri and Digha, the wonderful meal at Bamboo hut in Puducherry, Prawns and surmai in Goa ( it was when I could order a beer in front of her and enjoy her frowning), I can go on….. She was always sporting in trying new food outside, loved slightly spicy food, and had no sweet tooth at all. A non-veg dish would always bring a smile to her face and sparkle in her eyes.
Missed you today Ma, there was no one to give me the last magical piece of Alu from nowhere at the end and a little bit of Jhol but since you are living in me now – I helped myself. I hope you traveled well Ma and whenever the next opportunity comes please take the bone marrow for yourself – I just want to see you eating Mangsher Jhol once again. Bhalo theko Ma.
I plan to write more as so many stories rush in my mind as I think about her. I guess more coming up soon.