‘Get lost from my sight; you don’t get your ball back. Make your parents pay for the loss first. Then we shall see! If I don’t get my money back I am, charma sulithini (rip your skin off). ‘he threatened them moving the walking stick as if to hit. The boys were scared out of their blues, they simply ran away, scattering in different directions. ‘Let’s go in Keshava. These boys are so careless! Go and clean out those glass pieces. And give me that ball’ he said sternly. I silently handed him the ball and went on to clean the bedroom. These shattered glasses are a thing of beauty. You should look at them, adore them and then only discard them. Those tiny crystals like structures, each piece sparkles like a diamond when sunlight passes from the window. I looked at them about fifty or so fallen on the ground revealing a mystery world within itself. Picking up one for a closer look I kept it near my eye, the sun rays seemed to pierce through the crystal and shone brightly with different colors. This is really a thing of beauty! Then quickly I collected them, moving every piece on the bed and around it. I had to next pacify Thatha, he was boiling with rage. I knew how to bring him back to normalcy. The right recipe can do wonders at such situations. Thatha was a great foodie. He loved to eat and enjoyed his meal thoroughly. At times I have also wondered at the way he eats, hurriedly and stuffing his mouth with food. There was an urgency in the manner he had food. This behavior made me reach two conclusions about him:
• Either he’s never had delicious food throughout his life till now.
• Or he prefers his lunch and dinner really ‘Hot’
The present situation gave me the clear command of preparing a feast for lunch. In two months, you can study any man even if you are just a ten year old kid. I knew what each of his taste bud yearned for. Ajji’s words rand in my ears ‘The rich eat like kings. So you did better get prepared to become the Royal Chef.’ I was trained to become one. The menu for today’s Royal feast is…… a surprise! I tiptoed to see if Thatha was taking a nap. He was enjoying a blissful sleep on his easy chair. Was he the same ‘Lion’ that roared few minutes back at the verandah? Because if you look at him now, he slept like a harmless child. I went back to the kitchen. The short ‘Easy chair nap’ usually lasts for forty minutes after which straight to reading the different newspapers. Thatha had a passion for journalism, I think. He subscribed for three top newspapers daily, and he did read each one of them carefully. Forty minutes was more than enough for preparing a normal lunch, but a feast? Will I be able to keep the surprise to the last minute? But I wanted to see that expression on his face at the moment he sees the feast spread over the huge dining hall. So I multi-tasked, cutting vegetables for sambar and frying the spices simultaneously. Then grinding the spices for that secret ‘Sambar’ powder my family was famous back home. Iyengar sambar is the most famous thing in entire Karnataka. Payasam I was trying only for the second time, hope it comes out well. Everything fell on place and it was ready by twelve thirty THATHA’s lunch time. I walked into the dining table, his nose had already sensed the aura of ‘feast’. ‘Keshava, what’s special for lunch?’ he said in a pleasing tone. His pace increased as he almost rushed to take his seat. ‘Sir I thought some change will be good from the routine… I replied very modestly. No longer did I finish the sentence he had already started. I stood nearby ready to help him with the servings. But he seemed to lose himself in enjoying each morsel of food he ate. When I handed him payasam in a tumbler, he was already a happy man. Did I see tears in his eyes? May be I did, I will never know with those thick rimmed glasses hiding his eyes. But when he got up from his chair he looked at me affectionately like one of his own. I will never forget that day. Thanks to those ‘little rascals’.