To everyone that asked how my first semester went, I’ve told I’m glad it’s over.
A painful majority of my week nights (or whatever remained of them considering I went to sleep at 3 and woke up late) were spent listening to Cherathukal in my bed. During week days I draw the blinds but keep the shades parallel so light can filter into my room, in case I over sleep. There’s a streetlamp right outside and there’s these trimmed grasses and short plants by my window throwing shadows on my walls to keep company.
(Only on week days because weekends are more cheerful.) Some days I turn on the fairy lights in my room. It’s a little weird because it’s sad yet it’s a good way to sleep, away from deadlines and college. The song reminds me of all the good fish I should be eating. All the meen-curry’s at home, basically. And I’m not even a meencurry person.
Kannan loves meen curry. Me-not necessarily. When coming home he asks if there’s meen curry to decide if he should eat from home. A yes suffices, never fails to amaze. I would have different questions. What other curry? Thoran entheluondo? If meencurry then what meen? And what meen curry? Because there’s so many.
The tame, orange, slightly watery kind made with puli and fine arapp so that the coconut doesn’t stick on to the rectangular or square choora kashnams that you can peel off layer by layer like kitkat. The red one with mathi is my favorite, with lots of ulli and tomato paste, sweet and spicy and sour and heads (with eyes and brains as well, for all you folks too puny to eat the best parts of mathi), and skeletons that you can chew and grind and yes, swallow (well muringakka allalo mathi alle). The fat juicy neymathi bought fresh from market that oozes bursting fat onto the frying pan, filling the entire two storeys of the house with the smell of mathi fry, it’s criminal to eat it cold.
Or even the netholi curry made with curry leaves and thick coconut paste that sticks to each shockingly yellow piece? On some days, manga pieces creep into the yellow curry (I’m not a fan). And that lame ass meencurry I ate from the roadside thattukada with a huge fish head-piece and was all the hype but tasted like an average emotionless curry even compared to my mediocre cook Amma’s worst.
And all those Sundays with fish bought from the market and onto the meenchatti straight with some arapp from the mixie, split green chillies, curry leaves and/or drumsticks. The fat fish that broke apart as you gouged out a big piece burning the index and thumb fingers and revealing white flesh underneath that turmeric coated yellow paleness and escaping fumes. And the greedy you go for it again before your finger has even cooled down and it goes straight to your mouth, the taste of fresh fish that you don’t get once refrigerated. Gulp. Another bite and another and another. You need more pieces. Chatti evide?
They say the arapp gets better and the curry tastier the next day even if a bit sour and if you’ve had your amma give you undas of that with pazhinji you’re as lucky as me, but there’s nothing quite like cooking fresh fish. The cheli of the market and the heat of a Sunday noon culminates in those easy burns, accompanied fumes and the juiciness in your mouth. Or even the coarse varutharacha meencurry for ayala that’s brick red and thick and you cannot see much else apart from the likely contours of pieces and a stray white eyeball floating here or there. Curry leaves? Somewhere there. Drumstick? That too. Less on gravy but amazing with kappa.
Kappa. Goddammit. *pause for a dramatic sigh*
The best I came to making fish curry here was with grated coconut and puli and tilapia. It tasted good, edible, but nothing like a meen curry should taste like mostly because the fish has unfamiliar un-fishy flavors here. So like every other night I go to bed on Wednesday after a marathon to submit an assignment at 11:54pm for a 11:59pm deadline and I listen to cherathukal and imagine all the types of fish curries I could be having at home, if the kid in the film knows all of the different varieties, of the gleaming skinned fish in his curry, of his favorite way to make konj – with lots of ginger and garlic or with thakkaali or frying them deep red with crispy curry leaves or a glowing curry with coconut or?