Love, comfort and other such musings

Neelam Malik

Neelam Malik

On my journey back from my workplace, I began wondering about all the things that bring warmth and give a feeling of comfort, no matter what the situation. And the one thing that stood out was ‘food’

Whenever we remember our childhood, invariably the conversation turns towards food-  favourite dishes that our mother, our grandmother or our aunts cooked for us. The air fills with excitement  and suddenly everyone has something to share, some anecdote to narrate. Laughter spreads, the eyes sparkle and the mouth- watering dishes float in our imagination as we share recipes and special tips of the food that was cooked. There is immense love and joy in the atmosphere.

At one such lunch meet we started a conversation on Achaar or pickle made in almost every traditional Indian family. Many favourite recipes, grandmother’s tales and intricate processes were discussed. The conversation ended reluctantly as we had an impending meeting. The aborted joy brought many thoughts in my head as I sat in the car to go home

The activity of pickle-making must have become a ritual with an abundance of crops and the philosophy of ‘preserving for the rainy day’.  Watching our mothers and grandmothers engage in the meditative and complex processes of mixing ingredients, revealing their deep scientific knowledge of which foods go with what and preservation techniques that can beat any logistics theory, instils pride and a sense of being in control.

The smell of the masalas, papads, achaars seem to have been planted in the deep recesses of our minds. They unveil a plethora of emotions and  memories and provide comfort to the mind and the soul. When I look at the jars of achaar and bags of papad, they give me a sense of abundance, of richness and plenty. Probably this is the reason why, despite these items being available on the shelves of any grocery store or home- delivered at the tap of a finger, some of us still go through the entire process. The process of sorting raw materials, mixing ingredients, spreading them out in the sun and waiting for them to be ‘prepared’ enough to be consumed, whilst constantly checking on them every once in a while. Gruelling, yet so satisfying!

I had now reached home and started making preparations for the pickle with my latest stash of raw mangoes, many fond memories of childhood, especially of my mother, flooded back and it filled my heart with happiness.

Then I entered my balcony full of a variety of plants. It suddenly dawned on me that these feelings of benevolence and plentiful are natural when everything we require is given to us by plants. These plants that grow in the bosom of the mother earth, the Dharini, as we call in our culture, the beholder of everything!

The mother Earth fulfils our needs and desires. Everything that brings us safety and comfort, like the foods that we take credit in preparing, are actually provided by her.  It’s indeed strange that although this mother has given us so much, we have stopped talking to her, being with her, touching her, feeling her and listening to her.

The uncanny feeling of guilt filled me with remorse. How did I forget my mother! Why was I not able to understand what she’s going through? The very source of comfort and abundance that we enjoyed all through our lives. The one with no biases and the ability to squash all differences and unite everyone.

I have lived in her lap of luxury, season after season. She offered me what I desired, needed and many times, what I greeded.

Sometimes in a moment of conceit, I start to think if I can break this connection with the earth.  Can I really break this bond with my mother Earth? But try as I may I will be connected to her in some way or the other. Nature has ensured that we all remain connected to each other and her- just as I receive my nourishment from many sources, many microorganisms that survive on us, get theirs from me.

Even when I give birth to a baby, the baby is the gift of this very mother earth. Even after we are no more we will go back into that mother.

It’s high time we think about all the children of Mother Earth. I decide to start with the soil. The soil that is an abode to so many micro-organisms and living things.

I make a mental note to do my bit to contribute towards providing the future generation the same feelings of comfort and abundance that I have enjoyed throughout. Saving the Soil is the only way to ensure that my progeny enjoys the fruits of nature as I did.

With this new found revelation, I find my new purpose, my raison d'être.


Bio: Dr. Neelam Malik is an educationist who believes, as a co-founder of the Arya Gurukul Group of Budget Schools, in a liberal and compassionate approach towards teaching-learning process.

In sync with the current technologies and pedagogies, Neelam Malik, through the group-schools and other platforms, keep on innovating and delivering quality, for a wide-section of learners and their needs, in an IT-driven and India-specific context.

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