When I think of Coffee cakes, I am back in Kerala in my parent’s home in Kochi. I can see myself as the skinny nine-year-old, fussy about food and highly stubborn. I was an anti-social butterfly, truly content with what God had blessed me with. Mum was a super baker and decorator...sadly she wasn’t blessed with a child who enjoyed these. I falsely presumed, you become a mum, you become a baker…The only cake I truly adored was Mum’s coffee cake...I would gleefully wait outside the oven door for the cake to come out…
It was during those days Achacha and I had our secret trips to Broadway. I studied In Chinmaya Vidyalaya in Warriam road. The school would finish at 1:20pm. Our driver Surendran Chettan would come collect me from the school and we would straight go to bustling Broadway. It was brimming with people and cycles...The air would smell of spices from the Gujarati stores. Surendran chettan would drop me off at Prabhu and Sons. Achacha would be chitchatting with the owner there. As I walk in, he would ask the owner” Innu puthiya chocolate etha ullathu”..(What are the new chocolates you have today?)
From his little glass case would invariably would come out a Gems, a Dairy milk ..a Creamy bar… These days of heaven did not last long..Achacha would leave this world in 2 years’ time…the visits to Prabhu and sons would stop too…Once in a while when the feelings become unbearable, I would just buy a creamy bar and have it with a heavy heart..
Fast forward to 2018, nearly 26 years later...
I was back in Kochi after 3 years. Things had changed a lot...I could easily get lost in the roads I knew a lot. One day I was going past Menaka junction. I was thinking of Achacha and missing him as always. I told the driver to drop me off at Broadway. Cars were not allowed in Broadway anymore.
I yearned to be a little girl once again...to hold my Achacha’s hand...to share a Cadbury with him….
I walked through the dusty streets. The shops hadn’t changed one bit. Suddenly I saw “Prabhu and Sons”. My heart skipped a beat. I went in. There was an old man sitting there. The glass cases were practically empty. He asked me what I was after. I replied without much thoughts” a vicco toothpaste please”. He took the change and handed me the packet.
I couldn’t hold any longer. I just said “ I used to come here with my grandfather 25 years ago practically every week..”
Without blinking an eye, he replied “ Velunny’s granddaughter?”
There was electric silence in the room. I became so teary…I was indeed in another era...same place...same people…except for my grandfather..
He continued with anger and sadness, “He was my great friend...Noone told me passed away.”
I replied “I am truly sorry ...I was only 9 years old then..”
He made me promise that I visit him before I left to Australia…I did...On the eve of my return…
With trembling hands he gifted me Achacha’s favorite chocolate from his bare cupboard..A dairy milk…
Everyday is a miracle. Enjoy to the fullest..The ability to live in the present relishing every moment is a skill…Nothing ..Nothing lasts forever…
Presenting a humble coffee cake and Ammama’s cook book.
PS: That is Achacha’s gift to Ammama..A vintage 1969 Better homes and Garden Cook book…Something which always reminds me of the intense love Achacha and Ammama had for each other