Toss of a Lemon

Grannies are a special relationship in our life. Their wrinkled skin, face oozing with affection and kindness, her diamond earrings and nose ring with the diamonds set in a trade-mark triangle, the nine yards, delicious food and her silent spirit. All of these memories came back to me in a rush. When i turned the pages i was reminded of the times when i used to lie in her lap and she narrated mythological stories to me post-lunch.

Toss of a lemon is not about grandmothers. Its about the life of a women who gets married at 7 and widowed at an early age of 18, two children and countless grandchildren and great grand children. A confidant maid with whom she develops a life-long kinship and how she stood ground silently. The book takes us through the time of pre and post independance and how the brahmin community has evolved. How we have shed all those innumerous customs, beleifs and traditions.

Sivakami is born in a small village and defies custom to stay in her husband’s home even after losing him. She wages a silent battle with everyday problems and raises her grandchildren as her own. She is abandoned by her son and is the central rock of her big family. She follows all customs and traditions religiously and works tyrantly for the well being of her family.

There are subtle incidents in the book that reminds us how life would have been in the yesteryears.There is a reference to the movie Parasakthi and how cinema touched the lives of people living in the villages, how birth certificates we recorded with a toss of a lemon, how street plays were a sign of worship and a stone-carved ramar could be the center of your entire lifetime.

I have asked my grandmother why her mother always wore a faded shaded of brown and why she tonsured her head. My grandfather has patiently answered my questions of yechal and pathu and why mom keeps a morsel of rice for the crows to feed on. We often ate brunch at 11:00am which was a full-course meal, my grandfather insisted that we shut the door and never get up in the middle. There was no eating in front of the TV, low-carb diet or worries about what to eat for snacks. My grandmothers ginger chutney was a delicacy that i still cant master and her hand made seedai and thatai still taste so delicious.

I always used to think that change is for the good. But the way our lifestyle has evolved, the countless manners and traditions we have silently side stepped, maybe not so much. Maybe change is good when we know we are evolving but not moving so far away from our roots.

Toss of a lemon brought back so many old memories and its going into my permanent collection. 

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