Kappa & Kerala

What’s for evening, amma? The girls asked the mother who sat on the verandha, leaning on to the wall,caressing her silver locks. The teeth missing,the bright red bindi shining on her forehead,she reminded the girls of  her once famed beauty. But she said, go pluck tapioca..

So they went on to the fields armed suitably, heckling, cutting and pulling the tubers out. Muddy waters ran as a basket full of kappa was scrubbed clean.

With the expertise only experience can bring, the eldest of the girls, peeled and cut them into large chunks before throwing the pieces into boiling water.

A pinch of turmeric and some rock salt later, the tapioca was cooked and drained. It was time for seasoning. Into the cheenachatti  went 2 tsp of coconut oil, mustard seeds, sliced green chilly, small onions and some curry leaves.

The aroma brought the men of the house rushing to the kitchen for tea. The boys back from school and college lined up for a plateful of yummy kappa with spicy red chilly paste.

The youngest of the 11 siblings caught hold of a large piece of tapioca,rushed to the crackling wood fire and pushed it in. His fingers burnt a little,but he was ecstatic.

A little later the tapioca looked at him invitingly, revealing a white powdery stuff that made ships sail in his mouth, literally!

What happens to a true blue keralite at the sight of Kappa is indescribable .

A rush of memories, a host of aroma of the taste of spicy chutney and finely cooked kappa leaves him terribly homesick.

And the next thing you see is that he is on board travelling to  where Kappa Kalls!

Warrior of Steel- CC 10

A face that belied his 17 years of existence

a fragile body

a voice that surprised with its richness and clarity

a wealth of knowledge that inspired awe

that is Mangesh Gupta for you.

When I first saw Mangesh, I pulled my gaze away, uncertain, unsure of what to say, how to react. But he was more than forthcoming and smiled gently.The warmth that he exuded touched the entire class. When it came to sharing information, we always gave him room. We knew that his knowledge of the universe, the galaxies, the stars was worth a listen. More importantly, none of us stood a chance against him, he was the encyclopedia. When he wrote in his note book gripping his pen in a death hold, great stories and ideas took shape.

During the pre-boards, I remember thinking worriedly of his cause of absence, when his care taker wheeled him in. The man said, he would not let me rest mam. He has high fever but was insistent on writing the exam. Mangesh looked at me with a mischevious smile.

An enthusiastic student who never let go.

Mangesh Gupta: Warrior of Steel

Back home in Kerala, a painfully honest  Balraj.K was battling  Mito chondrial cytopathy. Yet his dreams were intact. Dreams of a small job, a small home and a beautiful family. He sat in the wheel chair smiling and said, listen to this song,see, you will like it. Go out,you will feel fresh. Learn as much as you can, make something of yourself.  Do your NET, National Eligibility Test for Lectureship, he would say as  if it was a door to heaven.  It looked as if he was not very convinced about the efforts of those who claimed to love him, for he decided suddenly to quit the game of life and move on.

Balraj.K Warrior of Steel

Mary is a beautiful girl. At the hostel she was one of the brightest and liveliest girls. The care taker a rather portly man teased the boys, look at Mary, isn’t she beautiful as if instigating them to tease her. She kept her quiet and focused on her studies. She was the only girl who had got the opportunity to study in that famous school on scholarship. One day when the man approached her in her study , she panicked. Picking up a blade which lay nearby, she cut her wrist again and again. The sight of oozing  blood stopped the man, who made a quick escape. Mary said, if you see these marks , I am sure you will think that I had an affair, I eloped with someone, I did that, I did this…I always try to hide my wrist. I hate these scars….It raises questions about my character. While we nodded in disagreement, Mary shared how she was spotted to be trained as a beautician as a school drop out  at the age of 19.Since then though there has been no looking back. Her dedication and commitment won the hearts of the Managers who hand picked girls like her to train, to educate and to prepare them for life. Mary today is a head trainer in Mumbai. She leads  a team of 20 other beauticians many of whom are much elder to her. She says that she is a tough task master. If you get a second chance at life, you got to make it big, right?, she says with a smile.

Mary Zacharia,warrior of steel

Battles are not just fought on the war front.  There is a warrior in each one of us….one who does not give up, one who shines in adversities, one who smiles in despair or what looks like despair.. a warrior of steel in each and every one..cheers to that.