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Monday, 27 February 2012

A Spring in My Step



Food writing is my guilty pleasure. I write in snatched time. When Life pauses long enough to let me.  But when I do, it is the best part of my day. I lose myself in words, and there is nothing in the world that gives me greater pleasure than this – turning into Yummyami and losing myself in words.

I’ve just handed in a large project for work that’s consumed me for the last two weeks. So, I am free again for a bit and it feels soooo good!  

Besides work, my latest preoccupation  has been trying to get Ranbir to walk! He’s got my lazy gene, it seems. The very thought of moving is a chore.  And so, much to his dismay, I’ve turned into Cruella de Vil, and we’ve been practicing every opportunity we get.

Like today.

Today, I decide not to take the pram when I go to pick him up from school. I’m hopeful that we can try and walk back home, at least part of the way. It seems like a good day to do it. The sun is out and it is – dare I say it – warm!!?  After weeks of unceasing, unforgiving chill – cold, dark days and colder, darker nights – this feels like a holiday by the sea. 

So I pick him up. He seems in good spirits, all smiles and twinkly-eyed.  And why not? It is truly glorious out today. Blue skies. Gentle breeze. Birds chirping. And the sun.

And so we walk. I face him, walking backwards, bending my knees, holding both his little hands firmly in mine, as he takes steps forward, tentatively, lurching sideways, tottering like a drunk.

Baby steps.

How amazing that we all start like this.

We have many adventures on our short walk home, Ranbir and I. Everything is a source of awe and wonderment. When a car goes by, he points and says, “Caaa...”  When a big red van goes by, he points and says, “Baaa...” - although it’s not a bus at all! And when a scooter passes, fast as lightening, faster than his little brain can work out, he says, “Uh oh”

He’s gotten bolder, in just minutes, as he grows to trust me, trust my grip. He’s walking in a straight line now, gallantly, like a little warrior – Ranbir, his namesake.

He’s going faster to match my pace. I’m going slower to match his. We carry on like this, until we are locked in our own little rhythm. Me facing him, holding his hands, walking backwards. In tempo. We are dancing, little Ranbir and I. To the melody of birds.

Strangers smile as they pass.

Suddenly he stops in mid stride and I almost lose my balance. “What?” I ask, faintly annoyed. Eyes open wide, he points to something behind me. I turn around and follow his gaze.

He is pointing at something beautiful, dark green and red – a single burst of colour amidst a brown sea of bare branches.

It is a cherry tree. Covered in its entirety with bright red fruit. They are growing together in little clusters, each tiny and perfectly round.  

Baby cherries.

Ranbir doesn’t know this of course but he has discovered something profound. He has discovered the start of Spring.

I bend down so that I am on my knees now, side by side, next to my little warrior. When I do this, we are roughly the same height! How close the ground seems, and how far away the sky. And we are under the branches of the cherry tree, surrounded by little red fruit. They are everywhere, tickling our ears, and the tops of our heads - close enough to stick our tongues out and grab a few right into our mouths! It is a new and utterly delightful perspective.  

And suddenly, standing there with him, under this budding Cherry blossom, I find myself inside his little body, and I look at the world with his eyes.  

I smile.

And I know.

I know that as slowly but surely as Spring will come, that soon, very soon - slowly but surely - Ranbir will walk, alone and unaided, into the wild and wonderful world.

I pick him up - all chubby 16 months of him - into my arms, and run to the lovely fruit lady around the corner from my home. I buy cherries – grown-up ones, dark red and ripe, plump and juicy.

Here’s what we do:

For the Cherry Mix
- 4 cups fresh cherries
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup castor sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Crumble
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Here’s how we do it:

Heat the oven to 190C/375F.
Lightly butter five, 5-ounce custard cups (or muffin molds or ramekins.) When buttering, coat the bottoms first, then butter the sides using upward strokes.

Meanwhile, pit the cherries – and please resist the temptation to go through the entire blessed lot while you’re at it!

In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, water, 3/4 cup sugar, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Stir well over medium heat. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat and let it cook uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Divide the cooked cherry mixture evenly into each buttered custard cup.

Now, combine all the crumble ingredients together and sprinkle evenly over each cherry-mix filled cup.  

Put the ramekins in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the crumble is nicely browned and crunchy.

And listen when I tell you that there is nothing, nothing, nothing in the world that compares with the aroma of just-baked crumble!!

And so it’s time to eat.

Sid is away this evening. It is just Ranbir and me.

We eat the cherry crumble together. It becomes our dinner, 2 for him, 2 for me, and 1 (upon mutual agreement) put away for daddy. And as we lick our plates clean, I tell him that I’m going to spend the next 7 years in the gym. He doesn’t understand a single word of course, but nods solemnly all the same.

I put on some music on a whim, hold his hands and kneel down so I am back to being about Ranbir’s height. We twirl around once and he bursts into squeals of laughter.

So we do it again, simply because it makes us happy. We are full of Cherries. Spring is around the corner. My baby boy will walk soon, very soon. What’s there not to be happy about?

We twirl and we twirl and we twirl.

2 comments:

  1. Yet another beautiful piece Amrita.. can't decide what sound yummier- the cherry crumble or Ranbir's twirls and tumbles. Loved reading it. Canny Bhua

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    1. Awww! Thanks so much Canny Maasi, I didn't even knw you read my stuff!! Well I hope u try the crumble and the u can tell me if it's really yummy :)

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