by Rugmini K L
(Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India)
She looked around to see, confused, if anything has been stolen out of her wide mouthed shopper bag. She was confused. She was confused as she felt someone was calling her from behind, but could not make out from which direction the voice came from. A sleek handbag /purse by her armpit which was ready to slide down anytime and a samsung phone on her other hand on which she was answering a call. Julia was confused with so many voices from all sides in that busy vegetable market. She was doing her pre-Christmas shopping. She had finished her meat shopping. The are kept in her car which was parked a few meters away in that multilevel parking.
Her 8- year-old- son was fond of chocolate cake. This time she plans to bake two chocolate cakes besides the normal plum cake which she loves to eat. She is an engineering post graduate who has opted to be a full time housewife and a food blogger since she conceived her son. She was sure of being a full-time mother well before her wedding. She told that clearly when her father spoke to her about her marriage. A wise decision, he appreciates now, though he was not that happy at that time as he felt "then why did you struggle studying so hard and got into BITS?" He kept on asking.
In due course, she got married to an army official and was posted in Assam. Life was not that fun as she had opted to resign, her job which kept her so busy, to stay at home. Occasional online jobs which she took up didn't interest her much.
Jacob Mathew, her husband too was not that satisfied with his free time which he got ample in his army career as he was a hyperactive individual. Situations and luck was on their side that as per the couple's wish they moved to Masinagudi, a small place near Ooty. Jacob's father and grandfather have been planters. Down south, they have rubber and coffee plantations. They decided to buy another coffee estate near Ooty from one of their relatives who was moving to USA as they were getting old to manage these and their only daughter who is practising Medicine in Chicago has shown no interest to settle down in India.
It was here in Masinagudi, Julia and Jacobs' son Richard was born. Years passed by. Julia a 5' 2 inch tall lady, very fair in complexion, with shoulder length hair was happy. She mingled well with the other estate ladies and around. Their main time pass was to conduct workshops bringing experts from nearby Mysore or Coimbatore. They did many exhibitions and helped the rural ladies learn new skills.
Julia was interested in baking since her pre-teens. She helped her grandmom in baking during her vacations. Her grandmom used to supply special bakery products in the neighbourhood as her culinary skills were famous. Young julia had taken initiative to compile a recipe book and helped her grandmom to publish it under grandmom's name with the good help of her mother. In due course, her grandmom became all the more famous in those days when satelite TV channels were just coming up.
Julia bakes one special cake every Christmas and Easter apart from her conventional ones which is made in all the Syrian Christian houses down south. Last year's frosted almond and honey was a huge hit that her friend took the initiative to send the recipe with the photos of the cake to a local daily in which it was published.
Jacob is busy nowadays with the newly bought industry near Mysore. Julia can't accompany him always as their son Richard needs someone to be looked after.
This year Jacob's sister has come from France on a vacation and their entire family will be meeting at Jacob and Julia's place here. Julia is busy buying provisions, meat, and vegies to serve them. Julia and Jacob moved to Ooty when Richard started going to school. Julia liked the Ooty vegetable market a lot. Every time she makes a point to visit the market, though she gets ample vegetables from her backyard. The visit is something which she loves to do,
This time her shopper bag was full and in search of the voice that called her loud, she turned to find,Thunga, a young lady.
Thunga came running towards Julia and said" Akka, I had been following you from the car parking. I could not shout loud as my throat is blocked because of this chill weather. It has been over 8-9 years since we met." She was gasping.
Her maroon Woolen head cover was almost covering the crown of her head. Her yellowish white teeth which were in perfect line were seen all out. "How is Richard Akka?" She asked.
" Hey,how are you? I have been thinking of you two weeks back. Howz your daughter? Your parents fine? Do you still make biscuits? "
The questions from both sides were endless. Thunga was very young, a 16- year-old- girl when Julia moved to Masinagudi. She is their estate security' s niece who had come there in search of work from Mysore. She helped Julia during her pregnancy time and for another two years.
Then Thunga got married and moved to Devakote a small village near Mysore. Years ago, Julia had trained her in baking to help her cope with her drunkard husband, and the financial struggles she faced. Thunga started baking. She worked in a bakery besides she sold her home products in the market too.
Whenever Julia thinks of her servant maid's story or any lady workers' who works in their estate, Julia felt she was so blessed to have nice parents and caring husband. These ladies learn a lot at a young age. Thunga got married at 16 to a drunkard and he died within a year of marriage giving one daughter to her. Life was very tough for her and this girl was always gloomy or crying. Julia, took effort to meet Thunga's relatives to make them understand the value of a young woman's life and convinced them to remarry her off.
Thunga always was thankful to Julia as she taught her a skill which helped her to run her home now. Julia felt so special when she thinks of such good acts done by her. She felt proud about herself listening to the praises Thunga poured on her thanking Julia for being kind and helpful at the time of need, Julia felt her decision of being a home maker, marrying Jacob, moving to a small town, all were predetermined. She thanked god secretly and drew a cross in her mind as her car entered the compound of her big house. She opened the front door of her house and kept the bags near the kitchen platform and stacked the meat in the cold storage and came to her patio sipping a cup of tea. She sat in the wooden chair and took her writing pad and wrote in bold letters in green ink, "Thunga", her new interest, writing. She has been writing stories of real life heroines who she met. A compilation of seven real life stories to be named as Vibgyor, a name well chosen.