Those Bygone Summer Holidays….☀️🌝🌞☀️
It was a ritual to spend the summers at my “Naani’s” (maternal grandmother) village. As soon as the school closed for the summer break, without wasting a single holiday, my mom and me took the State Roadways to reach there. The fun started with the journey itself. I made sure to buy the latest edition of “Tinkle” and ‘Chacha Chaudhary’ comics and ample packets of orange flavoured sugar candies to last the whole 6 hours in the bus. Once at the last terminal, I looked forward to the tonga ride to reach her house. Though the horses were so well trained to do their job, still the ride made me anxious every time. The galloping rhythm of their hooves would fade as we neared the loose dirt road of her village.
Once we reached the big entrance of her house, we were welcomed by a red, old fashioned tractor parked there. I would climb on it without haste. On one side was the big “gher” (enclosed space for the cattle and their fodder). I would peep in there to check out the collection of Jersey cows and the good old Indian buffaloes my naani possessed, and if I hung around there longer, I could see the domestic workers milking them. Once we settled in the house with all the cousins and aunts, even the long summer days seemed short.
Everything there was a fascinating escapade – filling the iron bucket with the rustic hand pump; noise of the crude milk-churning pot to make fresh white butter; woody smell of the “chulha” ( old fashioned gas stove) on which milk was stirred, simmered and reduced to make warm unadulterated “ khoya” ( dried whole milk). This khoya was then mixed with homemade brown sugar to make the tastiest “pedhas” which would just melt in the mouth. My naani had got us a small chulha and miniature iron pots and pans custom made for our pretend plays. Since my naani had extensive mango plantations, her inside room was filled with handpicked varieties of “Chausa” and “Dusheri” mangoes. The whole house would be fragrent with their delectable smell and we would enjoy eating these summer beauties in all forms possible. Even my very first swimming experience was in the tubewell at the mustard field where we all walked down together enjoying the summer breeze and rural topography. One whole month would fly away so quickly and then it would be time to pack and go back to modern, urban life. I made sure to pack all these wonderful experiences back with me and these cherished memories are an inseparable part of me that my heart still holds dear!