I don’t remember the exact moment at which I fell in love with the boiled egg but there was a transition that occurred, like with school. When I was 10-years old, I remember my mother digging inside a boiled egg, her fingernails were painted red. She plucked the yolk from the egg and smacked it on my plate.
“Eat!” she said
The yolk sat like a yellow igloo on the edge of my plate. It looked familiar, but its taste remained obscure in memory.
I picked up the igloo and put it whole in my mouth. It began dissolving into a delicious yellow paste as I chewed, Its texture was like that of a Petti-Kadai Palkova (not the regular Peda like Palkova, but those square-shaped ones stored in glass jars that’s sold out of blue cart shops). When I finished eating, the remnants of the yolk stuck over my gums like clay, my index finger went inside my mouth and scooped it out.
I put that heap of blob back in my mouth and licked my finger clean. My sisters’ face contorted with disgust “aye che pranava! Aiyoooo. Go wash your hand right now!” they said in unison. But my mother was proud, “leave it, our Pranava is growing up let him eat,” she said.
The following week she coaxed me into boiling eggs for dinner. Guided by her directions, I put six eggs in a bowl with water and left it to boil on the stove, it boiled and boiled and boiled until there was no water left.
Crackling noises like that of corn-cobs cooking on hot coals swam out from the kitchen and the smell of burning eggs permeated the hall. My mother dropped the cucumber she was peeling and ran to the stove.
“Aye Pranava!” she yelled
She was mumbling to herself when I reached the kitchen, “Can’t finish one simple task also no? Look what you’ve done” she said. “We’ll just put it in cold water and wait for it to turn back ma,” I replied. Her eyes widened and she began laughing.
I put water in that bowl and waited and waited and waited for the eggs to turn back. After a while, my mother tapped me on my shoulder and said “Come, dinner is ready, We have other eggs.”
I sighed and trudged behind her, the eggs never turned back. To uncook was impossible, but we had other eggs. I like my boiled eggs a little runny, in-between. I remove a small part of the shell and suck on it till only the solid part is left and only then remove the whole shell. Because you can’t separate egg from shell when you’re eating a runny boiled egg.
KVs were known to be okay with their students carrying non-vegetarian food, but there was an invisible filter that deterred everyone from bringing it to school. Eventually, I realized that nobody packed non-vegetarian food for lunch at school. So I told my mother that she should stop packing eggs with lunch. For the first few days, I found the eggs hidden underneath the rice like secret messages. But with time and more whining, they vanished from my lunch box.
They reappeared after about a decade but this time the yolks were gone. It happened one day when I woke up and my brain decided that my body wasn’t good enough. Yolks are a big no-no when one is trying to lose weight.
“That is the medical mafia people spreading false information Pranava, the yolk only has most nutrients,” my mother said, “ I’m telling you, they see only profit, they don’t care about our health”. I laughed, it sounded very bizarre to me then.
She agreed to just pack the egg whites, but every morning she would come to my room Holding the steaming lunch box. She held two boiled eggs —a little runny— in her other hand. “Pranava are you sure you don’t want the yolks?” she would ask. I would grunt as usual and say no.
She would pluck the yolks out, walk to my balcony and with a jingle of her bangles set the yolks on the compound wall. “I pray that the many Kaka (crows) that I’m feeding with your food gives you good karma, at least that way you’ll get some sense.” The egg whites then went into my lunch box.
After brushing my teeth every morning, I would look out my window at the compound wall and see each yolk lying there like a leaking morning sun. The crows came often and pecked at them as they melted into the wall. Sometimes a layer of thick yellow yolk painted their beaks, they would shake their heads vigorously to get it off. And sometimes they would catch me looking at them and become still. The beak would turn away from the yolk and one black eye would stare back at me. How they must envy our tongues.