I would really love it Prachi, if you could make some Gharya for me. They are made from wheat flour, sweet potato and jaggery. They are super oily and super yummy, little puri like things.
Since I was a kid, whenever I visited my Aji’s house, she would make Gharya for me. I would roll the puris together and hog it. I wouldn’t think of saving some for others.
Recently, Aji fell ill and became bed ridden. Obviously then, she stopped making Gharya. So, whenever I met her, I told her how much I miss eating them. She would tell me get the ingredients- Sweet potato and jaggery- and offered to make them. But she wasn’t in the condition to do it.
Last year, Aji passed away. I miss her and I miss the Gharyas she made. It’s is very special to me. Nobody else at home has ever made Gharyas. I don’t know if I will ever have it again.
Through the Gharya you make, I want to relive the time I spent with my Aji 🙂
My experience cooking, eating and feeding gharya
- I have waited to make Gharya and write this post for 2 months. Sweet potatoes, unlike regular potatoes are seasonal produce. In the last two months, I asked every vegetable vendor and every relative in Amravati for sweet potatoes. Everyone asked me to wait for winters. I finally got sweet potatoes this week in the weekly market.
- Weekly markets are endearing places where farmers bring fresh farm produce on a set day every week. The Mandi near home gathers on Wednesdays. I remember going to such a mandi with Mumma when I was 3. It was crowded and scary for my little being. But I loved the sight and smell of fresh vegetables and fruits. Mummy, who took every opportunity to teach, showed me how to pick the best vegetables. The cucumber has to be straight and thin, the potatoes without eyes, tomatoes firm and Bhindis crisp. I was only reminded of this when R and I were sent to buy vegetables. R, I realized, had not got this education. And I got to pass it on to her.
- Hot oil is scary to me since I watched Satyam Shivam Sunderam as a 3 year old. As a 28 year old, I am less scared of oil hurting me, more of it deforming my Gharya. Oil at different temperatures acts differently with food. Not-hot-enough oil will get soaked into the Gharya, too hot and it stay uncooked in the middle. It needs just the right subjective, temperamental temperature to act with the food as you want it to. It reminds me of me during PMS.
- As if following the script of the Shen’s story, Mummy rolled her Gharyas and ate them while working. Mummy and I are lazy eaters who prefer food than can be drank or rolled and stuffed. She didn’t save any for papa to taste, which he was vocally upset about.
How does one make sense of loss?
Every time I approach it, try to catch hold of it, it shifts shape.
I haven’t lost many people to death. I did lose Dada many years ago, but time has made that loss easier to endure. I miss Dada, I do. I felt a pang in my chest when Dadi said “If your Dada was alive, he would love this project. He would probably help you cook. He loved experimenting with food.”
I didn’t know this about Dada. I knew him as the guy who said “chori mane taan de di” (this child troubles me a lot) about me. Something I would repeat till I was 28. He was also the smoker of Bidis, wearer of kurta pajamas, man who laughed as he told stories of me kicking him in his sleep. But now he is the guy in the photoframe. Every attempt at imagining his alive, getting to know me, letting me know him, hurts much more than actually losing him had.
I have lost many people to life. I am only now able to acknowledge the mother I lost to the asylum. I lost the father Papa could have been had Mummy been neurotypical. I lost the I, I could have been if I didn’t change schools, wasn’t bullied. I lost the life I could have had if mummy was diagnosed as a teenager.
There will always be a profound sense of loss for what could have been…