Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mushroom hunting

Senthil's story.

Appa and his family secret and our mushroom hunting! I love mushroom hunting. I do like to eat mushrooms as well. Mushroom fry is my favourite. Mother prepares it very well. I love it. But early morning waking up? Nah. Well, I do like it after we have reached the fields. But waking up is not my favourite part. Father doesn’t get that this is still midnight and not early morning. He calls it morning. He and his mornings! It is 2am for God sake. Midnight. Uffffff. Eyes are begging me. I feel like I am sleep walking. It is misty and dark. Don’t really understand any of it. He calls it our secret path. Family secret! Every family-father has his secret path to collect good amount of mushroom for his family. See, you don’t cultivate it like a crop that you can be sure about your harvest. I think it is just luck. But these fathers are so sure about their paths and their harvests. When there is a lightening the previous night, they all go hunting for mushrooms. Every one of them thinks it is just him who is clever enough to realise the harvest time and go hunting. So is my father. “Senthil, come this side. It is too bushy there. You don’t want to be bitten by snakes.” Whaaat? Heaven sake. I don’t wanna die for mushroom. Le’ts go home. “We have been part of these fields all our lives. Snakes are part of it too. They don’t bite. We don’t die”. Well, snake doesn’t bite you everyday to let you know that it does bite, does it? We keep walking. “Come this side. Let us take this route. No one knows this route. Last time, I got plenty of mushrooms in that red soil field. It always gives good mushrooms. I discovered it. We must keep it as our family secret”. It is too dark to remember our way back home. We see torch lights. “awww. These people. They must have followed us. Never mind. Let us take our regular route”. I just follow him. Don’t know any of his routes. “There”, father shows me a mushroom. There are few. Small white mushrooms in the middle of the green weeds and cholam plants. I run to pick them. All over the field. Soft white tiny umbrellas. I unroot them carefully. So soft that it breaks easily. I run all around the field. It is browny whitey dark now. Almost dawn. I can see the soft white tiny umbrealla mushrooms very clear. We have brought two yellow bags, one for father and one for me. Both are full, well, good amount, if you ask me to be accurate. I am very happy. Very happy. We head back to town. It doesn’t feel as long, as it was before. When we reach our giramachavadi (the village hall), others are waiting there discussing their harvests. We join. “How much did you get Annae (elder brother)?” Ponrasu chithappa asks. “Enough for both of our families”, father smiles and gives him one bag. Whaaaat?! I don’t get it. “Appa, it is ours, we collected it”. I don’t get it. Some more join us. They all shared their harvests. When we all left the chaavadi, bags are full according to each one’s family size. Some mothers prepared kaalan kulambu (mushroom curry) and my mother prepared spicy mushroom fry. Mushroom fry is my favourite.

A jump and a run - version: modern

Left left jump. Right right jump. One two three four. Left left jump and right right jump. A jump and a run, a jump and a run… Right crunch. One two three four. Left crunch. One two three four… “Why are you breathing so heavily? Did you run to come here? It was after all kurusamy maama’s shop. Not that far”, inquisitive mother wants to know. “She has been jumping and running all the way from the shop”, report from a passer-by, some athai or chithi or a paatti or an achchi. They are all the same. Even chithappas/periyappas or maamas and pattiyaas even thaathas are the same too. “Ahh. Why doesn’t that surprise me! I have been telling her to behave like a girl. She never listens. I don’t know how I am going to deal with her. It is me who is going to get the blame when she goes to her in-law’s family. Her mother in law is going to point her finger towards me for her bad upbringing. She is definitely going to shame us all”. One two three four. Left crunch. One two three four right crunch. One two three four. Haa. Some more would be good. It is burning. But, see how big the tummy is. I had to hold my breath all day to keep it less showing. Formals makes it worse, doesn’t it? Left crunch. One two three four. Right crunch one two three four. Advanced crunch. One two three … four…. Five….. haaaa…. Enough for today… “Premalatha, Premalatha, awwhat? You must be joking. I am slaving in the kitchen washing all the dishes, and you? (left left and a jump, right right jump) Nice to see you keeping yourself fit, but, please get yourself in there and prepare the sandwich for our lunch pack”. “Last time in the formals I was looking so ugly”. “Yeah, I know. I know your concern. (a jump and a run). That guy you were flirting with, you both forgetting the topic and purpose of your meeting, (a jump and a run) I know, you needed to be very fit. Has it ever occurred to you that you are approaching forty, F O R T Y and you need to age gracefully now?” ahhh. “What?” “I have cut my finger. What else? It is the knife. I always tell you to keep the paring knife off my sight. Where is the serrated one? It cuts the sandwich better”.