Thursday, January 19, 2006

What Molasses Remind Me Of - All Of You Who Remember This One, Clap Your Hands

A lot of my family, sister, brother, mother and cousins read my blog. This story could be remembered in different ways by different people. To me, it always brings to mind hot summer nights, starry night skies, charpoys and the often tuneless sound of my uncle trying to pick up his latest raaga on the flavor-of-the-month instrument. The peals of laughter this story evoked would sometimes bring on the curiosity of my uncle (when he became hard of hearing, I often wondered, did he miss butting in?) who would always try to spice up the story which resulted in my grandmother and him almost coming to blows. Anyway...

I was reading Here about Raab (molasses but thickened) and I knew I had to put this story down.

My grandfather was married twice. The first time he married without the consent of his father, who was supposedly quite the tyrant, and his first wife and he were not allowed in my great-grandfather's house since. When his first wife died prematurely of a deadly asthma attack, he was married to my grandmother, the reteller of stories and regained entry into his paternal home. The first wife was from a rural, agricultural family and this was always used by my great-grandfather (the tyrant) to torment and plague my grandfather.

The story goes that Grandfather's first wife had two strapping brothers who doted on their sister. Once, after a particularly good sugarcane harvest, the two of them decided to send pots of raab (molasses) to their sister. So, they got two giant earthenware jars, filled them to brim with Raab and instructed two servants to deliver it to my great-grandfather's house. When the two fellows bearing Raab on their heads, arrived at his house, he summoned the two fellows at the entrance and asked them what the jars contained and where they had come from. When he heard that the jars contained Raab and they were sent by his much detested daughter-in-law's brothers, he was infuriated. He shouted, "Imbeciles! Do you think we use dirty, fly-infested raab to sweeten our kheer? (This part of the dialogue is imagined. If anyone remembers the correct one, please refresh my memory) Do you want me and my son to meet an early death because of your dirty, fly-infested, unhygienic Raab?" Saying that he thwacked and broke the jars with his walking stick, drenched the poor fellows with sticky, smelly Raab, and coolly turned away and walked inside the house.

When my grandmother came to this part of the story she would tell us with much glee just how awful it must have been to be drenched with Raab and for some strange reason, we could just not stop laughing at that.


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