The Summer Moon
By Debjani Mukherjee
It is a warm summer evening. Mrinal is busy with her kitchen chores. Her hair is tied up in a untidy bun allowing few forelocks dangling on her round slim face with high cheekbones. Her tall thin body is wrapped with an emerald cotton night gown perfectly complementing her bright skin. Today she is making mango kheer an Indian desert prepared by consented milk mango pulp and sugar but she is using sugar substitute as Kunal her husband has developed high blood sugar recently. She was not elated with the idea to make kheer for desert but summer is a season of mangoes and mango kheer is worth a taste at least in this season. The fresh pulp of the rich sunshine in the bowl, loaded with tempting sweetness is too hard to resist at this time of the year. Mrinal poured the warm tangerine coloured pulp in the semi white concentrated milk and stir the spoon. Kunal was busy watching television folding his legs up on the sofa in the adjoining living room to the open kitchen. The channels kept changing one after another as the remote button gets a press after frequent intervals. A little of this a little of that and then again a change of visual to satisfy the quest of satisfaction. Pipo and Tina her twins are watching the other television of the house which is in their bedroom upstairs. Yes this is what we have become now a days, always with a search for more happiness than what we currently possess. Mrinal remember those Sundays of her childhood when the whole family used to sit together in front of the TV to watch the single weekly episode of a mythological serial which didn’t even had any repeat telecast. But today most of us have more than one TV at our home and yet often argue with each other over the choice of channels.
The kheer is almost ready. Mrinal added few spoons of sugar substitute and turned off the oven. Now only the puri has to be fried. Puri is a round deep fried Indian bread made out of wheat flour dough. Mrinal is ready with the dough she will fry the puri at the time of the dinner. She sat on the sofa beside Kunal leisurely keeping her eyes on the television screen not actually watching anything. Pipo her son and Tina her daughter are both were arguing about something upstairs, there Voices are coming faintly through the sound of the news reader of a National news channel. Six political leaders of six different national parties are shouting at the top of their voices and here Kunal is getting overexcited as if tomorrow he will be crowned as the prime minister of the country banging his head out supporting someone and criticising the others. His small round eyes becoming big with excitement. And his fist is getting tightened in brief periods without any intentional effort. This is a daily routine of Mrinal’s house, evening blaze with the heated discussions of the television. The news anchors shouting vigorously to prove their point which Mrinal thinks often pre-decided. The spokesperson of different parties nowhere in a mood to listen to other’s logic and often speaking between others speech without having the minimum curtsy to let others keep their opinion. A display of ill manners flaunt shameless over and over in every single channel every single day of the year. Mrinal finds these as mere cacophony in the name of political debates where logics often remains in lesser importance than the drama. A thin intellectual was trying to attack the government with the logics which are hardly relevant to the days topic and Kunal is no where in a mood to give him any ground as if it matters and the power went off.
Three voices yelled together from two different parts of the body. “Oh no! Why does the power have to go now!!” Words come out from tiny and matured voices jointly. Pipo and Tina came down holding emergency light from their room. Mrinal likes to lit candles during the power cut with is a very rare incident in this area. But she is fond of buying beautiful candles and displays them as show pieces in different rooms of the house each one of different shape, colour and design. She lit a fat short candle of red colour kept on the side table by the sofa and another cinnamon aroma candle on a holder hanging from the wall. The room lit up in beautiful golden light. And suddenly she felt the calmness of silence. But the other three are far away from longing any kind of silence highly disappointed with the sudden interruption of their rendezvous with television. All the three heads now have no clue what could be done in this situation when there departed mercilessly from their best friend television.
“It’s too hot mamma,” Pipo complained jolting his head in Mrinal’s lap. “Ya mamma too hot,” another thin voice ringed in the room illuminated with soft yellow glow. Kunal joined the team saying these power cuts are nothing but the results of bad administration. These people are not interested in administration only ready to fight in the name of religious beliefs. How can this country progress when people are satisfied by only talking about religion disgusting. The other two of the team are not interested in the political details of the power cut at all. Presently it’s the heat with is irritating them more. Mrinal pulled out a hand fan from the top of the almirah which she brought from her home town. The circular shaped fan is made of the dried leaves of the palm tree with a handle attached to it. And revolves round and round spreading air to all directions. But the problem with hand fans are they need to be invested force all along the process which will eventually make your hand pain. After a while Mrinal had to stop and instantly the children started muttering about how hot the evening is. All the three souls are clueless about any strategies that can be taken against the heat when Mrinal came up with the idea, “Let’s go to the roof.” All the three agreed with the idea. So they went up to the roof with two foldable masland mats ,four pillows and a bottle of water.
The roof is flooded with it’s soft milky rays. Tonight is a full moon night on the summer sky shimmering with the white diamonds all over it. Mrinal felt as the world is floating on the youthful waves of the moon. Thin cottony clouds floating on the azure playing hide and seek with the monarch of the night. A gentle cool breeze is blowing carrying the aromatic flurry of the jasmine from their garden. The twining vines of the full bloomed jasmine climbed all the way up to the roof intoxicating its surroundings. Mrinal stood near the vine resting the back of her waist on the brick deck railing of the roof taking the deep breath to fill her heart. The children spread the mats on the roof floor arranging the four pillows side by side and called out “Mamma come please let’s all lie down side by side.” One two three four side by side facing the sky they lie on the mat . One small hand got up with a tiny finger raised “see that must be Venus” Tina said in her ringing voice. Another thin voice this time “can you make out the question mark with the stars???” Pipo asked his sister. And this time it is daddy. “See see an aeroplane”, “See a falling star, ” and the discussion continued. Mrinal looking at the sky with a smile on her lips thinking “thank God the power went off.”