“Panditji what is this?” Misry asked licking a little from her palm.
“This is Panjiri prasad.” Panditji answered.
“Can I have a little more?”MIsry asked drawing out her hand.
“Sure, My child. Did you like it?” asked Panditji.
“Hmm. It’s very tasty.” Misry replied.
“Didn’t you eat it before? My Mom makes it at home almost every other day.” Honey said.
“You mean Ma can also make it?” Misry asked excitedly.
“Why not? It is very easy. ” Panditji said.
Misry thanked him and came out of the small campus temple with Honey. She loved going to the temple mostly in the evening. Honey always accompanied her. They loved pulling the rope, to ring the temple bells. They usually waited for Panditji, who would be busy making arrangements for his evening prayer rituals before giving them the Holy water and Prasad. The Prasad would usually be batashe or misry. But that day it was Panjiri which Misry liked very much.
After reaching home she asked Madhavi to prepare it for her. But Madahvi had never heard of it before so there was no question of preparing it.
“I will make you sometime else sweetheart but I don’t know what is Panjiri.” Madhavi said sadly.
“Ma Panditji said it is very easy and Singh Aunty makes it for Honey every other day. I want it too.” Misry was adamant.
“Okay! I will ask Singh Aunty then.”
Madhavi called up Mrs. Singh’s residence only to be told that she had gone out.
Misry was eyeing her mother with suspicion. It never occurred to her that her Ma would not know the dish which Honey’s mom so often made for him. After all Moms are Moms, they know everything, even making Panjiri.
Madhavi knew well that her little daughter was in no mood for cajoling which meant Madhavi had to make it anyhow. But she had no idea of the ingredients to be used. She was sure that it was some North Indian recipe, so she asked Goura, her orderly, about the dish.
Goura was a native of Rajasthan and his knowledge about the dish was just about a percent more than his Memsahib. Nevertheless he told her to roast wheat flour in a pan and then add sugar and Ghee to make Panjiri.
Madhavi went to the kitchen and made the item. After few minutes she served it in a small bowl to Misry.
Misry filled her nostrils with the aroma and then very carefully took a small spoonful of it to taste. Madhavi and Goura stood behind holding their breath for the verdict.
“Ma, you are awesome. Thank you so much. It is good.” Misry said taking another spoonful from the bowl. Madhavi and Goura let out sigh of relief.
“Panditji, do you have Panjiri Prasad today too?” Misry asked as she waited her turn in the campus temple.
“No my child! I will make it tomorrow. Here you go with your Batashe today.” Panditji replied.
“Oh!” Misry was disheartened.
She took it and went home.
When Madhavi saw her daughter’s long face she asked want the matter was. To this MIsry replied that she wanted to eat Panjiri.
Madhavi went to the kitchen and prepared it in no time. She was certain that she was using the correct ingredients and procedure for the item. When she served it to MIsry, she ate it without any tantrums. Madhavi was happy.
Next day Misry went to the temple again. She found the Panditji not there. She waited for him in the temple.
When Panditji finally came, it was already dusk and time for evening prayer rituals. He saw Misry and Honey waiting for him. The aroma of Panjiri brought smile on Misry’s face.
“Sorry children I am late today. I was making this Panjiri for Prasad. You should go home now.” Panditji said.
Misry knew that Panditji will not give her Panjiri before making the offering to God which meant she had to wait till the evening aarti.
“We will wait Panditji.” She quickly replied.
The ceremony began with chanting of mantras by Panditji inside the temple while the children pulled the ropes outside, to ring the temple bells.
The entire ceremony was over by an hour, when MIsry finally got to taste her favorite Panjiri Prasad. She asked for a paper and wrapped up the extra Pinjiri for her Ma. By that time it was pitch dark outside and the children ran fast to reach home.
Anurag was home early that evening. When he learnt that MIsry was still not home he was furious. He had warned Miary several times earlier to be home before dark. But the girl had not heeded to his instructions. He was taking off his uniform when she entered the house.
Before Madhavi could stop him he had already started spanking Misry. He had taken his uniform belt and spanked her.
“Bad girl! You don’t listen to Daddy! Didn’t I ask you come home before its dark? Why are you late again?” Anurag hissed at her.
“I am sorry Daddy. I was in the temple.” Misry cried.
Anurag dragged her to the room where they had their small home temple.
“Here is the temple right in your home. You can sit down here and pray day and night, as long as you want to. Nobody will say anything. But little girls don’t stay out of house after dark. You hear me!” He left Misry there to cry and went to his room.
Misry sat down crying. As she wiped her tears, the paper wrapped with Panjiri fell on the floor from her hand.
Madhavi had come to console the child when she saw the wrapped paper lying on the floor. She picked it up and opened it. Her heart melted when she saw Panjiri in it.
She hugged the terrified girl and kissed her endlessly. When Misry was normal again Madhavi asked, “Did you bring it from the temple?”
“Were you late because of this my child?”
“Is this the Panjiri that you wanted me to prepare?”
Madhavi took a bit of it on her finger and tasted it. Her preparation was nowhere near what she had just tasted. She felt guilty. Although her preparation was not up to mark yet Misry never complained and had always appreciated the efforts whereas Madhavi never took the effort of learning the actual recipe from Mrs. Singh. Her little daughter had been spending time in the temple to have her favorite Panjiri all the while. Madhavi could not control her tears as they rolled down her cheeks. She could not forgive herself.
“Don’t weep Ma. I will never be late again. I promise.” Misry said hugging her mother.
Madhavi kissed her and murmured, “Don’t GROW UP MESSY!”
Glossary* Panditji – priest
Ghee – clarified butter made from the milk of a buffalo or cow, used in Indian cooking.
Panjiri – a traditional punjabi sweet made with whole wheat flour and dry fruits in winter season to ward off cold.
Prasad- a devotional offering made to a god, typically consisting of food that is later shared among devotees.
Batashe Misry – Used as Prasad
Aarti – a Hindu religious ritual of worship
26 stories in 26 days. I am attempting very very short stories series with GROW UP MESSY – The sweet sour story of a 5 year old girl. Follow my blog for the next story of Messy.
You can read the other post in the series here.