Didi is peeling oranges. The last harvest of Nagpur oranges for the season, I heard Bapi mention to Maa and Grandma.
It’s already blazing summer. The mango trees in our backyard are in blossom, in a couple of weeks I reckon they shall bear fruit.
Don’t discard the orange peels, I hear Grandma instruct Didi.
Didi smiles. She almost expects Grandma to remind her.
You don’t worry Ginnima, Didi assures Grandma, I shall scrub and wash the peels and lay them out in the sun to dry.
Nothing ever gets wasted in Grandma’s kitchen. Not even orange peels. They are sun-dried and powdered. Used to flavour Grandma’s finger-licking komola lebu sandesh when oranges are not in season.
Can I have a tiny bit of the peel ? I whisper to Didi.
She looks around to see if Grandma is watching. And convinced that Grandma’s hawk eyes were not following us, she nods.
I pick up a small peel and run.
Looking for Dada.
I find him in Grandma’s room, cuddled in a corner of her ancient four-poster, engrossed in a comic.
I sneak up to him in hushed tiptoes. Like a tiger stalking an unobservant prey.
Dada is too absorbed in the book to even notice.
I squeeze the peel, a jet of citrus spurts into his eyes.
I run for cover.
Dada comes chasing. In fury.
I hide behind Grandma.
You did it to me last week, I confront him. Defiantly.
Dada goes grumbling to Maa.
Maa cooks a delectable Komola Phulkopi that morning. Cauliflower stewed in orange juice.
Dada and I make up after lunch. And chase each other silly around the house.
You are bringing the house down, Maa complains. Who shall ever believe they were fighting bitterly just hours back ? She quips in frustration.
God bless them, Grandma remarks. And reverts to her leather-bound Ramayana.
Komola Phulkopi. Cauliflower cooked in orange juice. Orange segments thrown in for a further explosion of citrus. Yet another novel delicacy from the house of the Tagores.
A riot on the palate. Enjoy !!!!