One of the toughest things I had to do till date was to leave the first love of my life behind as I shifted base to an alien city in North India. It was challenging, and I missed ‘us’ all the time. Some days it was so bad that I would call up home and talk about nothing but our eternal love story, and how happy I was then, and how crappy I feel now. But I learnt to survive, and gradually my heart settled for what I was too snobbish to consider earlier.
But honest to God, you have no competition. I miss you sorely, dear Rosogolla.
I drool as I begin to write on the undying love I profess for all things sweet. SwEEEter, the better. Yes, with capital E’s. Give me a box of candies anytime, and you won’t find a happier soul. Better still, treat me to a platter of sweetmeats, at any odd hour of our twenty-four, and I will consume it with unadulterated relish. The little bursts of sweetness, and the mushy sounds made when these heavenly delights crumble in the mouth, soothe my being. Not to forget the mellow aftertaste that lingers behind. I love sweet. With my mind and soul. I live to eat- Mishtis.
Back home, not a day passed when I did not treat myself to a handsome amount of mishtis. It was either the boon of Rosogolla or the double delight of KheerKodom; the mouth-watering Chhanar Payesh or the delectable Lyangcha; the yummy Sondesh or the potful of chilled Mishti Doi, only to mention a few. Sunday mornings were incomplete without my plateful of scrumptious Jalebis which I would savour bit by bit, happily munching on till sweet was the only taste my buds could tell.
Birthday celebrations, in every Bengali household begin with a customary big bowl of Kaju-Kishmish encrusted, Kesar laced delicacy of Payesh prepared by Ma with all her devotion. And you simply cannot say no to that. Or even put it off. She takes it as a personal offense, mind you. It has got to be the first thing you taste on your birthday. Bengali moms be like, “it marks a sugar-coated beginning to your new life”, though I guess, it has got more to do with the feeling of contention she experiences when she sees her child well fed with food she so lovingly prepared.
My taste buds have now adapted to the flavor of North Indian sweets. Though mostly on the drier side, except maybe, Gulab Jamun, I enjoy them nonetheless. I sometimes skip dinner for a veg burger and a ton of Jalebis. Gajar ka halwa, soan papdi (ranging from orange to strawberry to chocolate flavored), gujiya, besan ka laddoo, doda and what not! But sweet shops are not as frequent over here as I would love them to be, and so my diet of sweets gets curbed, though not so much, thanks to the occasional solitary sweet that I get to have with my office thali at lunch. Call me selfish if you will, may hail and storm come, but I cannot get myself to share my sweet with others around the lunch table. Though, I wouldn’t say a no, if you offered me yours. I can have Rasgullas anytime I want, but sadly, here they do not come with the divine smell of syrup soaked earthen pot (which Rosogollas come in, in contrast), that drenches your olfactory senses with unparalleled satisfaction. I can never forget that smell, even if I tried to. I have grown up with it, for it.
I hear from my Ma that I have always loved eating sweets. Even as a tiny tot, I would ask for mishti, and not fries or chips, like my peers did. I even remember that shop beside my kindergarten school, where Ma would take my sister and me for our daily treat of sweets after a four hour gruelling session of “A for apple, B for ball”. I mostly used to choose a swan shaped sweet which had this thick sweet syrup sealed inside.I imagine that is what heaven must taste like!
Maybe because of my love for sweets, my grandma chose to call me Mishti, to celebrate the relationship my senses share with this one thing that can never fail me. Even when things go wrong and life seems messy, one chunk of this sheer goodness can bring a smile to my face and a smack on my lips!