Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lalitha Aunty

It was not a unusual ritual in our house, to get curd from the our neighbor, Lalitha aunty, so that we could set it for the next day. But this was rare. Something regular was, when she would come to our house, with a small bowl and ask my mother.

"Sunita, can I have a cup of sugar. I was about to make tea, and I just realized, there is no sugar."
"Sure Lalitha. Anything else, while you are here?"

"Actually, I had just boiled the milk and kept it aside and Bunty spilt the whole thing by mistake. I have sent him to the shop, to get some milk. If you can give me a glass of milk too, I can have my tea and then carry on with my chores"

My mom would smile, go to the kitchen, and in 5 minutes come back with a tray. It would have the bowl of sugar, glass of milk; along with it would be 2 cups of tea and a few biscuits.

"Lalitha, have some tea and biscuits, why do you want to go home and have tea alone", mom would offer. Lalitha aunty would give a sheepish smile and gulp down the cup of tea and leave the house thanking mom. I never understood why mom had to offer her tea, and give her the ingredients too. I would tease her, that she could include a spoonful of tea powder too.

It wasn’t just about tea. I can’t recall a single item in the kitchen, which Lalitha aunty hadn’t borrowed from us. I don’t want to take the credit away, but anytime, Lalitha aunty went shopping, she would get me chocolates. Every time she prepared something new, which was rare of course, she would invite me home, for tasting the dish. Bunty Bhaiyya and I would relish the dish. She would even pack it for mom and dad.

Few years later, I heard my parents talking about an apartment complex coming up in our neighborhood. I didn’t bother to enquire more about it. And, one fine day, we saw Lalitha aunty, Bunty Bhaiyya and uncle loading their belongings in a truck. Uncle came and shook hands with my dad, and just ruffled my hair a bit. Bunty Bhaiyya gave me his football. Finally Lalitha aunty came near my mom, both the ladies were wiping each other’s tears, hugged each other. Lalitha aunty gave my mom, a box, she did Namaste to dad, and she came up to me and said "Take care beta, we will miss you". I don’t know what prompted me say it, but words just fell out of my mouth and I said "We will miss you too aunty".

Couple of hours later, we were having lunch, when mom got me a laddoo, "this is from Lalitha aunty" she said. I realized how much I am going to miss the delicacies she prepared.

A week went by, I don’t know about mom, but I surely missed aunty, now, there was nobody to come and ask for sugar or milk or anything. My mom lost a company to have her evening tea.

It’s been 3 years now, since Bunty Bhaiyya and family left. There is a huge apartment complex, around 50 houses in it. I just hope there will be atleast one family like Lalitha aunty’s who would live in these houses.

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