The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Jul 16, 2011

Kheer and Chapati

The extract about kheer at Lashings and Lashings of Ginger Beer reminded me of this short story I'd read a while ago. In Parini Shroff's The Hijras, Samiya is worried that her mother-in-law's intransigence and dislike for the eunuchs will bring their curses upon her new-born baby.
That night Samiya attempted to make kheer once more. The coconut milk and rice didn’t scorch this time, but she did not allow herself to feel any pride until the pudding had thickened with the rose water and raisins. She prepared the dessert the way Mrs. Hayat preferred, with slivered almonds and pistachios on top. When it was finished, she stared down at the bowl of white cream; the green and brown ovals of the chopped nuts squinted up at her like lopsided eyes.
Skin slapping against the linoleum floor followed by the tapping of a cane reminded Samiya of where she was. Her hands quickly covered the dish and carried it to the back of the refrigerator. By the time Mrs. Hayat entered the kitchen, Samiya was focusing on the dinner she had started before making the kheer.
Mrs. Hayat took a rolling pin and flattened the small balls of dough Samiya had shaped for the rotis. Samiya slid the perfect circles on an oiled pan over the stove. They worked in silence for a few minutes. Her mother-in-law seemed at ease; Samiya watched the older woman’s hands as she worked. She could see blue-green veins under the nearly translucent skin. Mrs. Hayat wore two thick golden bangles, one on each wrist, and they swung up and down her thin wrists as her body jerked to iron out the dough.
Samiya flipped the rotis back and forth more times than she would have if she had been alone. Careful not to char either side, she spun the dough with twirling fingers around the pan. Her own mother had taught her this way, showing her how to make her fingers dance so fast the heat couldn’t quite catch up.


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