All because of a crow.
It was almost past twelve and the sun was blazing outside. The bare trees stood still. And there was an eerie quiet all over. It was obvious that everybody preferred to stay indoors as much as they could. Stepping out in the shimmering heat would be only for those who had to.
I had spent the whole morning doing nothing ... if you bar the laundry and some darning.
And had just stepped out into the balcony.
Finding it so hot and quiet all over, I decided to go back inside.
And that is when a crow cawed.
Not near anywhere ... from somewhere a little far away. But that cawing in that hot afternoon suddenly turned me into stone.
And a wave of nostalgia swept over me.
To make matters worse, I had Rabindra sangeet playing.
"Jedin tomar jogoto nirokhe, horoshe poran uthiche puloki ... " Sagar Sen, Bapi's favourite singer, was singing.
And I was transported back home in a blink of an eye.
Through watery eyes I saw Bapi come in, as usual, for lunch and head straight for the stereo system first. He would put on a record and wait for the food to be served. The kitchen would be a war zone then ... everyone trying to put out lunch in time .... 1 o'clock sharp.
Dadu and his sons had lunch first. So the ladies of the house hurried from the kitchen to the dining room, the house helps following them with bowls of food and trays holding glasses of water.
And the dining room bustled with the sounds of plates, glasses, talks, a cough hear or there, with Rabindra sangeet in the background.
I would sit on the window sill and watch quietly, soaking in the scene.
And look out of the big windows to see the haze of the afternoon heat outside.
And past the quiet, sleepy uthon / courtyard and the pond beyond it, on the single Taal tree, a crow would sit and caw.
And I would look at everybody's plates to see which one had the biggest pile of fish bones on the upper right corner of the plate.
Dadu would ask for another helping of bhaat just to mop up the gravy of the jhaal. His plate had the least bones .... Dadu was known for chewing up most of the fish bones easily.
I did not cook and did not feel like having lunch. With B away for work these days, I have no compulsion or motivation to step into the kitchen.
Rather, spent the whole day going through albums and memories.
And wishing for the nth time that I had recorded those voices somehow.
This Parshe maacher jhaal is a typical dish cooked in numerous Bengali homes with all kinds of fish, small or big, usually for lunch.
I add tomatoes only if I am making it during winters.
Parshe fish - 250 gms , marinated with salt + turmeric powder
Mustard paste - 3 tbsp
Onion - 1, medium, sliced
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Fresh green chillies - 3
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Nigella seeds / Kalo jeere - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water -for gravy
Cooking oil - 3 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )
How to :
Heat the oil in a heavy kadahi / wok.
Fry the fish and remove. Keep aside.
Add the nigella seeds + the green chillies.
Add the sliced onions and fry till the rawness goes away.
Now add the tomatoes + turmeric powder + salt.
When the tomatoes are done, add water + mustard paste.
Bring to a boil and add the fish.
Check for seasoning, cover and cook for five minutes.
Remove cover, check for gravy's consistency.
Serve hot with rice.
Here is a snap of our lunch that day .... Rice, dal, cauliflower fry and raw banana fry.
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