And we’re not talking again… The fight has happened over and over, to a point where I’m too exhausted to put my emotions across. I need a break, and what a happy sight is it to see my marinated half cooked beef fry waiting for my hands to create magic.
This is going to be the best beef fry, I tell myself and start slicing onions. They cause the same irritating tears that flood my eyes, every time I have an argument with my husband. No matter how much I tried staying silent, crying, or loudly voicing my opinion… I’m never heard and left hurt.
The same happens with these onions. I try soaking them in water, chew a stick of gum. In spite of it all the tears come, and so does the realization… Pyaaz he toh aansu ayengey, pati he toh aansu ayengey. Whatever. Finally, it’s done.
The kadai is hot, the oil is perfect. I put the special Southie spices and curry leaves and wait for them to pop. A nice aroma starts coming from the kadai… Hmm, I’m on the right track. I’ve added the onions to the spices, mixed them and closed the lid, waiting for it to become a little soft.
As the fragrance gets stronger, my mind takes a trip down the memory lane. I remember the days I spent with my mommy dearest. Especially the “chilled out” weekends.
During those days, I was a rebellious and a mean child. I used to fight with her so much, but she always loved me. But I must say… She started it first!
It used to start with me waking up at 11 am. A comparitively sane time for a tired college student like me to wake up. I dreamt of waking up in a true Bollywood style. Stretched out arms, humming a cool song and all. But in reality, it was a not so interesting Mallu movie, with my mum screaming ‘mani 11 aayi ennittum poth poley kadannu oranguva' (It’s 11 in the morning and you’re still sleeping like a buffalo!)
The fight had started, with both the opponents ready with their weapons, also known as ‘the tongue’. And for mum, she had an added advantage of using her Paragon chappal.
She started first and had issues with almost everything that I did. If I came home late, I’m a 'vayinokki' (loafer). If I’m home early then I’ve bunked classes. So from dresses, friends, food, studies… everything was an issue.
I would then storm into my room and shut the door as loudly as I could (BANG!). I’d lay there like a wounded puppy till she knocked on the door mildly, to patch up.
I’d come out, throw some attitude and avoid eye contact. She would quietly place my favourite beef fry on the dining table and wait for my reaction. After a tough fight with my principles, I decided that food was more important than my wounded ego. She would already be at the table waiting for me, and the moment we looked at each other, we’d burst out laughing. Then she’d say in her sweet voice “Eat, I’ve made it for you”.
Imagine my poor heart melting faster than ice, as I gorged on the tastiest beef fry in the world. It would melt in my mouth, the taste of the onions, the curry leaves, and spices were all so perfect.
The hurt caused due to the fight had drowned in that yummilicious dish, and we found ourselves bonding over food, chit-chatting about friends, work, family, or her friend’s over-achieving daughter (not my favourite bit, though).
During the feast, she gave this advice that every relationship has its own share of fights and arguments. No relationship is perfect or frictionless, and we only stop fighting when we stop caring, and that’s the scariest part.
My mum was a gem. It’s been eight years since she’s gone to be with God. And I still miss her. The times we spent bonding over food, fighting, and patching up. What would I do with the cornerstone of her advice? The same advice which I’ll hand down to my own daughter.
My daughter! Oh, she’s calling me! But the memories… Hang on… I was cooking my favourite beef fry.
I lift the lid, hoping that I haven’t burnt the onions. And thank God I haven’t. They are perfectly soft. I add the remaining masalas and the beef and wait till it’s cooked.
Mum was right, fights add essence to the relationship. I silently peep in to look at my husband. He looks at his laptop the way every girl wants to be looked at. Damn, I still love him! I care for him and when his words hurt me, that’s when I fight, to let him know that words have the power to either build a relationship or break one. I’d rather fight with him and make beef fry, than not fight at all and eat oats.
Aah, I can smell the aroma, it’s the same that came from my mom’s kitchen and I had discovered her secret too.
It’s love that makes a dish divine and fights that invent it in the first place.