My+grandmother+and+Bt.Brinjal by stariya



                     My Grandmother and Bt.Brinjal

                                Suma Josson

Ettumanur is the place where grandfather told my grandmother, that his son,
my father should not be informed about his death. As grandfather was dying
my father wrote his exams, became the first Engineer in Ettumanur and
came home to weep in my grandmother’s arms.

Ammachi of Ettumanur was what we children called our grandmother. She
was the silent, lotus-eyed one, a farmer, who followed things of the soil.

One morning, in the midst of the bee dance, Ammachi of Ettumanur said,
“Go get brinjal. Over there and there wherever its’ seeds have fallen!”

As we jumped the steps, she of the thick black hair echoed, “When you snap
them do not kill the worms. Nobody dies eating brinjals.”

And that became the way I would spend the rain and other childhood
holidays with her.

What food can I bring for you I would ask the silent one and she would reply:
lady’s fingers, tomatoes, chilies, onions, coffee seeds, coconut, beans of
various shapes, ginger, garlic, quaint sized berries, green leaves of different
colours and others which did not have names.

When I plucked brinjals for the first time, she let me into the world of the
colour purple. Because purple I learnt had different shades, shapes: 2500
varieties of purple and non-purple brinjal.

I pressed my little finger on her elbow and my finger moved up and down as
she chanted, “This is the land where brinjal first started growing. Your
ancestors saw this purple vegetable ate it and liked it.”

I pressed my little finger on her elbow and my finger moved up and down as
she put a little oil, grains of mustard, two chilies, and a pinch of earthsalt.
That was how the Queen Pollinator fried brinjals.

And then her face would appear in this space: a space between food and

Ammachi of Ettumanur’s eyes sparkling in laughter. That was the way she

A square shaped space, which hung like a photograph between the fire in the
kitchen and the rectangular wooden dining table where we sat down to food.

Feeding us that, which was made by her butterflies and bees and her worms.

And as we sat dangling our legs on the long wooden benches the brinjal
tasted like the butter she had churned from a pot full of buttermilk the
evening before.

Telling us stories of demons and goddesses.

In the battle between the seeds and demons, the soil gave up breath.

They incarcerated the doe-eyed ones’ worms into the brinjal.

When we sat around another table, little did we know that our organs were
being sold in the stock exchange. Our intestines were being hemorrhaged for
company shares.

Listen to the oracle of the planet, sparkling eyes had said. The story can end
this way or that.

And we ended it with terminator seeds.

With dead semen, the skeleton bones of earth.

When I think of purple I think of the skies in the drawing you made as a
child, the lotus eyed one, had said one night when I sat on her lap. Like in

Ammachi of Ettumanur, the Queen Bee Pollinator, inheritor of micro-
organisms in the soil, keeper of cow dung, cow urine, seven children,
returned to soil: rest in peace.

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