Red Ribbon and Kashmiri Pulao.

My maternal grandmother used to have a red ribbon when she was a little girl of eight. Her darling father had bought her a set of four red ribbons.

One afternoon, when her mother had dozed off, she tied her hair with a red ribbon and went off as the red riding hood with her pets which included three dogs, three goats and eight chickens following her.

When my maternal great grandmother got up from her sleep, she was extremely terrified finding her daughter missing and the pets too were gone. She called out to her daughter at every nook and corner of her house, but there wasn’t a single answer from anywhere.

Soon, she and her other children went out in her search and what did they find out?

That my dearest and maternal grandmother had gone to her father’s work place, which was a huge estate (he was the chief manager there) and there she and her father were playing Red riding hood. Her father was playing the role of a village chieftain and she was the heroine aka the red riding hood.

As soon as he saw his wife and his other children standing in front of him, he exploded out laughing.

He said-“See my daughter is the red riding hood and all of you are no good”.

As a result of this, both of them – my grandmother and her father were served only bread and milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two consecutive days and on the third day morning when my grandmother woke up, she found that very beautiful aroma of delicious food had filled the entire house. She rushed into the kitchen and hugged her mother from behind and asked her-“Ma, what are you preparing?”

Her mother-“All of your favourite dishes, including boneless mutton curry, Kashmiri pulao and khejurer (dates) chutney.”

My maternal grandmother and her mother, both of them held on to each other for a minute or so.

Then a rare happening in the universe took place.My grandmother apologised to her mother-“Sorry, Ma,I won’t do it again.”

Seldom had it happened that such beautiful cooks (both of them were excellent and superb cooks) would stay calm without squabbling or bickering with each other.

That day after my maternal grandmother had finished her bath, my maternal great grandmother tied a red ribbon on her head and gave her a big kiss and after that she fed her daughter that beautiful lunch which she had prepared so lovingly for her daughter.

Those times have got over a long ago, but they still remain fresh and beautiful in memory and in life.


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