Chiku’s Lockdown Diaries : Chapter# 6- The coriander and chilli plant

Every weekend dad would get up early and head to the grocery and vegetable market with an elaborate list in his hand. The shops were instructed to remain open only till noon. The list was prepared with lot of deliberation and consultations done between mom and dad. Debates of quantity and quality ruled the conversations and a list was unanimously prepared. I once asked dad, “Why is so much of deliberation involved in making the list? Everything is easily available in the shops; we can always go and purchase it.” Dad gave me an indifferent look and said, “Chiku, the situation outside is not like it was before. Since you haven’t stepped out you don’t know the chaos that is created by people in buying a bunch of coriander or chillies. There is a huge queue outside every shop. You must maintain the physical distancing norms; the scorching heat drains you out and to top it on you feel suffocated wearing a mask. Plus, you get jittery if someone just nudges you or brushes off. You start thinking what is his extreme urgency that he skips the queue and gets the privilege to enter the shop on priority. Also, when you get the provisions home you must sanitize them before you use them. Ahh!! The miseries of Corona virus!! And we are living a life full of chaos.” Dad was sulking, I felt bad for my parents. They were trying so hard to take care of themselves and us in these testing times. I imagined the scene as described by dad and was petrified thinking what an utter chaos it would be. Plus, there was always a shortage of supply of goods. Cheese, butter, and other common items which were a treat to your taste buds were out of stock always! My poor dad was so negative in going for his weekly provision shopping.

It was a bright Saturday morning. Chinu and me were enjoying our weekend sleep. Dad too was relaxing with reading his online news. Mom was making a list of things to buy. I woke up to the melodious sound of the birds chirping in our gallery. Our huge French window was a gala pedestal for the green parrots and mynahs to gather and share a banter among themselves. The cuckoo was cooing on the mango tree. The Gulmohar plant was full bloom with yellow flowers. Everyday, a parrot would sit on our window and would peep in our bedroom, as if he was our good old friend wishing us a very good morning. Lockdown had benefited our ecosystem immensely. The nature was breathing easy. The humans were indoors and the birds and animals were roaming freely.  Mom had showed me news reports of animals prowling on the almost deserted highways . Tables had turned -they were free and we were behind the bars. The sky was azure and the breeze was fresh and not polluted. The musical orchestra of the birds made the mornings so beautiful and positive.

After a sumptuous breakfast, mom instructed dad and me to clean the garden in our bedroom balcony. We squished and cleaned the green grass carpet. It was looking so bright and clean. The plants too were watered and to my surprise in the garden shelf, I saw two empty pots! So, I thought there was scope for planting a sapling in these empty pots. To reward our efforts, Mom decided to make yummy pasta and pizza for lunch. My hunger grew magnanimously when I heard of the todays lunch treat. I decided to cook with mom. She was very clear about her kitchen rules and detested the idea of anybody messing up the kitchen. She told me that I must learn to cook these simple quick dishes first and then slowly graduate to cooking the routine food delicacies. So, I wore my invisible MasterChef apron and stood politely next to mom, waiting for her instructions. She was a good cook. So, the first lesson was the upkeep of the kitchen and keeping the counter clutter free while cooking. The vegetables were cleaned and chopped, I was taught to chop them for the pizza toppings and for pasta too. We already had our sauces ready so pasta was quickly made. The pizza base was conveniently substituted with a thick wheat pancake which mom cooked on low flame and lo! The pizzas too were ready. It was an amazing experience to cook. I loved cooking.

Chinu too was excited to eat pasta. He kept flocking in the kitchen and kept checking the progress of the cooking of pasta. He very politely explained mom his plight, “Mom, my nose is smelling of tasty pasta. Please hurry up, my stomach can’t wait.” “Sure, yummy pasta and pizza for our little Chinu will be served soon” quipped mom. We had our lunch and our tummies were bloated too. Post lunch, mom was watering her plants. I saw the two empty pots and an idea stuck in my head like a lightening! Why not sow chilli and coriander seeds in these empty pot? I asked mom if she was ok. Mom thought for a moment and said, “Why not?” I immediately filled up soil and planted the seeds in these pots. But Mom also alerted me. “Chinu you can grow only on one condition. You should completely own up the plant. I must be watered daily. It is then, the plant will grow into a healthy and happy plant. Lots of work goes in taking care of the plant. Keeping it bugs free and infuse it with the right manure also is required . It’s like a dream that you nurture, you see it as a whole picture but the seeds need to be planted well in advance, so that as you nurture and try to make the factors work out for your dream it ultimately happens. When the first shoot appears out of the seed, you feel that the plant is growing like your own dream. That is when we rightly say, dream come true.” I loved this co-relation explained by my mom and decided to take care of my planted seeds.

Dad was enjoying his afternoon siesta. He immediately got up and asked an innocent question, “Chiku, I don’t know about your dream but will we get some chillies and coriander leaves till next weekend? I tell you; the vendor takes a hell lot of time to give them. At least I will save on time if we produce them in-house.” I gave a very puzzled look to my parents and we all rolled in peals of laughter and felt my dad was truly desperate to get rid of the lockdown.
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