I suppose that I've been trying to write this for months now. It is a story that I have so far recounted on exactly three occasions of post-coital cuddling, precisely two occasions of roommate bonding, and one rare occasion of spilling my guts to an absolute stranger.
I remember how three years ago, I was on the verge of falling truly, madly, deeply in love for the very firstest time when I dramatically dashed away from true, mad, deep love in the dead of night, opened up a document on my laptop quite similar to this one, and in an odd fury of numbness and focus- typed out the story. Back then it was a blunt, factual .doc file conveying exactly what needed to be conveyed. I shared it with the one person that I would then go on to fall truly, madly, deeply into first love with, and decided that that would be that. For all intensive purposes, I considered myself fixed and solved. I regained my ability to be kissed on the cheek, I put an end to my stream of lukewarm, semi-imaginary relationship flip-flopping, I allowed my calloused cactusy bubble of personal space to be invaded, and the whole big, terrible awful was slammed shut with a resounding thud.
However, a month ago, over a long and rambly skype call, I found myself absent-mindedly hauling the big, terrible awful up to the surface again, saying- “I think I just need to deal with it you know? Deal with my shit and all the stuff I've been holding on to once and for all and then finally move on.” At which point the dear face looking at me through the screen said something that I've been swirling in my little cranium ever since- “You don't have to move on, and 'deal with it', you know? It's okay to just accept it, process it, and then live with it. It's okay for it be just be a part of you”.
So here I am today, writing this new .doc file- a little less blunt, entirely avoiding factuality, but still trying to convey exactly what needs to be conveyed.
This morning I asked myself why I really hate Holi. Why the concept of Holi makes me physically uncomfortable and why I have been repeatedly relieved that my homes of Italy and California will celebrate the occasion only very minorly and to be quite honest- somewhat ridiculously.
So why are the memories that I associate with Holi so forcefully filed away in a rusty grey cabinet of my cranium? It's because Holi was where it all began.
I remember that morning clearly because it was the morning I refused to sign my entire name (a name that I am now defined by and fiercely proud of), much to the dismay of my feminist, stick-it-to-the-man-mamma. That morning, I went off to celebrate Holi as Sana Kadri, no Javeri included, leaving mamma and incorrectly signed name staring disappointedly at me from the dining room table.
I remember wearing short shorts, the kind only a fourteen year old who's eating habits resemble a malnourished sparrow can pull off, and a large t-shirt that I was hoping would turn relatively transparent over the course of the day. I don't remember how it happened that we were suddenly flirting so intensely with each other, or what exactly the moments of contact and physical attraction were, but I remember his cologne, and the fact that he wore the popped collared, branded polo shirts that my family was so disapproving of. I liked that- it made him 'cool' in every way that I was raised to know better than to get involved with. The rest of the story and following months of my silly adolescence have since been deconstructed and reconstructed by me in the presence of everyone from counsellors, to assault support groups to my professor of Islamic feminism. I do not need to assign labels to it, and express outrage for blurred lines and a half remembered series of events. What was to be learnt, was learnt, the rest can be laid to rest.
But back to Holi- so why, even know, does Holi send spiders crawling under my skin? I think it's because it is a clear marker, that I can see every time I peer back into the tunnel of my past- and pinpoint as the day I started to let things derail. When I started to become the person that I look back on and cringe at- the person who didn't fight back, who didn't take stands, and who certainly didn't recognize the foolishness of the games she was playing. I associate Holi with a social situation that encouraged me to play the role of giggly, weak legged, unwilling-to-get-my-hands-dirty kind of girly girl, and rewarded me in social standing for how I let the boys chase me, how I endlessly postured to be given the 'right' kind of attention, and for how I displayed nothing more than the ability to gossip, flutter my eyelids and nod fawningly when required.
I don't know why I keep coming back to this- why so many of my 20 year old ramblings are so deeply entrenched in my 14 year old angst. My hopes and dreams and recently sharpened life pitch are very much rooted in maturity and passion and changing the world, but somehow when I leave my mind to wander as it will- it comes back to the big, terrible awful of adolescence. But to raise a bit of a toast to that dear face on the screen of my skype call- it's not about 'dealing with it', and 'moving on'- as with everything, it is about accepting what is, and simply making room for more.
Sweet Potato Amaranth Pancakes
Ever since I've moved back to Bombay, breakfast has been a bit of a challenge. I refuse to buy frozen raspberries from Chile or overpriced Pecans from Godknowswhere, and I am also the brat that refuses to eat the upmas and pohas and idlis that usually comprise Indian breakfast. So I've devised a rsteady otation of gluten-free pancakes and veggie laden omelets that I can shovel into my belly every morning when I come home from lifting rather heavy objects. Enough to last me into late afternoon, and unfailingly to calm the T-Rex that emerges from me in my post-workout state.
Amaranth, or Rajgira is super easy to find here in India, a nice discovery to have made. Grinding the amaranth and almond flours at home left me with a fluffier, perfectly ground flour that the store-bought stuff just can't beat. The sweet potatoes available here are no match for the purple and orange beauties that SoCal spoilt me with, but they taste just fine.
- 1/2 cup popped Amaranth
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1 large stick of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 dates, deseeded
- 4 eggs
- 3 sweet potatoes, roasted until soft and easy to peel.
- 2 tsp ghee/butter/coconut oil for frying
Grind the amaranth, almond and cinnamon into a fine powder in a blender/food processor. Peel the roasted sweet potatoes and add them to the blender. Add eggs, dates, salt and baking powder. Blend into a thick mixture.
Heat the ghee/butter/coconut oil in a pan, spoon your pancake batter onto the hot pan and cook for 2-3 mins on each side until nicely browned. Serve with maple syrup, cacao nibs, pecans and cinnamon. Smile for a long, long time.