The walk shall be long, Bapi cautions, are you sure you want to walk all the way ?
I nod in enthusiasm.
Without bothering to even cast a thought.
It’s a chilly Karimganj winter evening.
A thin lace of mist hangs low amidst the trees.
Dressed in woollens, make sure you cover your ears, Grandma had insisted, we step out into the backyard.
We pass by the cowshed with its red-tiled roof into the mango orchard.
The light from the lone incandescent lamp hanging in the shed fades off and we are suddenly enveloped by charcoal darkness.
Gripped with a sudden fear, I clutch on to Bapi’s arm.
Look at the sky, Bapi suddenly whispers into my ear.
I look up through the canopy of trees at the ravishing canvass of the heavens on a new moon night.
That’s the Orion, Bapi points with his torch, the formidable Swordsman of the Sky, and do you see that glittering belt of his ?
I stand, transfixed.
And that’s Sirius, the brightest diamond in the sky. Bapi prompts.
With childlike enthusiasm, he rattles on names of more constellations, pointing at them animatedly, as we stand there, oblivious of time, enamoured by the gorgeous palette of the night firmament.
The plaintive moo of a calf shakes us out of stupor.
Looking for her mother, I am sure they shall come and fetch her home, Bapi explains as he flicks on his old steel Eveready torch, the beam of light illuminating the dirt path ahead.
We start walking again.
It’s pin drop silence now. Other than the monotonous orchestra of chirping crickets.
The shriek of a night bird punctuates the sylvan bliss.
And suddenly Bapi stops.
He switches off his torch.
There, in the Stygian darkness of the surroundings, under the shade of an ancient guava tree, a conflagration of playful fireflies chase each other silly.
Trails of pinprick light trace designs in the air, before erasing them and re-drawing new patterns.
A ballet of lights, Bapi remarks, who else but Nature can conjure such ethereal magic ?
We start walking again, past the village pond, gregarious duck coops, sleepy hen pens, croaking toads and the now decrepit temple.
The cacophony of human voices and Bihu melodies wafting from a distance alerts me that we are almost there.
We finally reach the raash maath.
The otherwise sleepy town seems to have congregated here this evening for Sankranti and Magh Bihu festivities.
This is a tribute to Nature’s bounty, a celebration of harvest, an ode to new rice and notun gur.
A decadent feast is laid out, prepared by ladies of the community, the ubiquitous doi maach and murgir jhol, a delectable tel koi, accompanied with a gorgeous basanti pulao.
And there I now see it – the bamboo house, walls and roofs cladded with hay, decorated with colorful festoons and twinkling fairy lights.
Dada and his friends, I had overheard Dada telling Maa earlier in the day, shall camp in the bamboo house tonight before the house is burnt with fanfare tomorrow morning.
I had sought permission to stay over as well immediately afterwards, only to be denied bluntly by Maa.
You are too young for it, she had counselled.
I had sulked the whole afternoon.
You are always partial to Dada, I had alleged.
Maa had chosen to not be drawn in to a verbal duel.
Cut now to the present.
I have been on a pithe-puli spree all week, treating friends and family, this morning though I crave for something savoury after all the sweets I have gorged on.
That’s when the idea of the Koraishutir Patishapta dawns on me.
So breakfast this morning is Koraishutir Patishapta, savoury crepes with a delectable filling of green peas. A hint of roasted cumin, a touch of asafoetida and that comforting warmth of ginger that delights on a winter morning.
If you are looking for a savoury treat to try this Sankranti, or just a novel way to enjoy fresh peas that are in season, do give my Koraishutir Patishapta a try.
I can guarantee you shall relish every bite of it.