“The sink has clogged again!” I quickly ran downstairs, a long metal wire rocking back and forth with uncertainty and fatigue as I made my way to the kitchen. My sister was already on the floor with a cloth, draining the water that had started flooding our kitchen and squeezing it into a bucket. Acha was standing by the sink, a torch in his hand. The wire was soon poking its way through the sink holes. It made screeching noises as it scraped against the walls of the pipe until it finally hit a blob of mass. “Aha, found it” Amma screamed. With all her might, she pushed and probed at the mass until it went all the way down and finally disappeared. Everyone sighed with relief.
Why can’t you people just come and throw the karawaypala leaves (curry leaves) from your plates and dabbas into the dustbin? Amma yelled in utter annoyance. “What’s so hard to just take them from the sink and put them in the dustbin yourself? Acha argued looking at me for support. But I didn’t dare to nod. Amma refused to touch the leaves once they become all soggy and squishy with the remaining food and water from the other vessels. “Once in the sink will have to go down that sink “she said as she got up and walked away. These leaves had started to create borders within the house. I have got to do something about this. It had started to become a nuisance.
My neighbor is an old couple. Their grand-daughter would come whenever she had holidays and I would go to her house to play. One day, she pleaded that I stayed and ate lunch. Amma said it was okay so we excitedly ran inside and sat at the table. As aunty served the rice, sambhar and beans palya onto my plate, I quickly removed the karwaypala leaves and piled it in the corner of my plate. When I looked up, everybody was staring at me in horror. “karawayele thinle beku (you have to eat the curry leaves.) They are very healthy” I realized that they weren’t going to stop staring until I ate it. Stuffing the leaves into my mouth, I quickly gulped them down with a sip of water. Was this how every other house solved the problem of the karawaypala leaves? By eating them? But they weren’t meant to be eaten. There had to be another way! Nobody in our house liked eating those damn leaves. They were an interruption in everything, right from chutneys and sambhar to even something as simple as mixtures and kadle puri. But they did add a lot more flavor to the food and we just couldn’t substitute it with anything else.
I went back home and stepped out into the backyard. When I looked up, I noticed that there was a karawaypala plant in front of me. When I looked around, there were 5 more of them, scattered everywhere. How had I not noticed this before? It was almost as if my backyard was being haunted. Just as I was about to go back in, a brilliant idea came across my mind. I started smiling.
It had been a week now. The sink hadn’t got blocked even once. Amma was very happy. “Whatever you all are doing, whether disposing them or eating it, just continue” she said broadly smiling. Acha and my sister were confused. They hadn’t been doing anything. But they didn’t say anything. Smiling, they just nodded their heads in approval. Once Amma left, both of them looked at me with suspicion. “Just look at those Karawaypala plants in our backyard, they look so healthy and big now na?” I said, a slight excitement in my voice. “What have you been up to?” Acha asked me, a little worried. “Just feeding them their own medicine” I chuckled. All of us burst out laughing.
featured image: Khairil Yusof (Flickr)
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