It’s close to 8 PM, and I am waiting for an 8:30 PM call. In the half hour I had, I had a hurried dinner. Hurried, but extremely satisfying. And that has prompted this impromptu post.
We had a cook for a year before Covid hit. Uma was probably in her early 50s and cooked brilliantly well. When I first met her she came across as slightly rude, and her MyGate reviews said the same thing. But the cook I’d had for a week had been SO bad that I was ready to take a chance. And it was a successful.
For the almost-year she spent with us, she never took time off. She introduced us to homemade Daal-Dhokli which became an indulgent Saturday Brunch item. She would talk of her daughter in another village, who was expecting soon. And her son, who refused to study and had decided to become a truck-driver. She would hardly ever be on time, but we could live with it, given no one left for work before 10.
One day, she made plain dal, and she said that the right way to eat this was, ensuring that we chopped up some garlic, fried it in a little ghee, and put fresh tadka, right before we ate it with white rice. I never ever did it because I am extremely lazy that way.
In the May 2021, when the world had taken a horrible turn, and I was still in worst year of my life, she called saying she was ill – high BP, she said. Not one to take time off generally, I asked her to take care. But then, when she did not turn up for 2 days, I finally called her number. Someone picked the call up, and told us that she’d passed away. High BP – he said.
Today, I was having plain dal, and there was no one else at home. So I finally decided to give Uma’s recommendation a try. I chopped garlic, fried it in ghee, and added it to my Dal-chawal. It was amazing. And actually a very satisfying end to my otherwise tiring day.
For that, and for all the time she fed us, I thank Uma.