Come the first showers and the soulless dust bowl that our backyard had degenerated to in the scorching blaze of summer is back to life. The flora, wilted and drained of life sap, is suddenly a luxuriant oasis of verdant green.
The pumpkin vine, one we had almost forgotten about, is ecstatic with the rains. And before we even realise, the red tiles of the cowshed are lost in a confusion of leaves, buds, flowers and tendrils.
Red bastions seem to be falling everywhere, Bapi says in jest on Sunday afternoon, at this rate, it shall not be long for even the last vestiges of red to disappear.
We were too young to comprehend the significance – this was the beginning of the turbulent end to what had been an eventful decade, revolution raged on in Poland and Hungary, the Berlin Wall it was rumoured would soon be demolished and speculation was rife that even the USSR would disintegrate.
Manikda, I hear Maa request Manikkaka one morning, can you get some pumpkin leaves from the vine ? The young tender ones please.
Pumpkin leaves ? I wonder what use Maa has of the leaves of the pumpkin vine.
The rickety ladder soon makes an appearance from the makeshift shed, Manikkaka cautiously climbs the ladder while Dada holds it firm, the vine leaves undergo Manikkakas careful scrutiny before being plucked off the vine and hurled down.
Maa inspects the leaves. Perfect, just the ones I needed.
Brimming with curiosity, I ask Maa. What use are these pumpkin leaves of ?
Wait till I fry the Kumro Patay Chingrir Bora, Maa smiles, I can guarantee you shall be left yearning for more.
The Kumro Patay Chingrir Bora that accompany the dal for lunch are undeniably divine. Even Dada, no fanboy of greens, asks for a second and then a third helping.
Kumro Patay Chingrir Bora.
A tear-jerking spicy shrimp filling. Wrapped in tender pumpkin leaves. Dipped in batter. And fried to a gorgeous golden.