That evening, my mother made special poli (a flat chapatti-shaped sweet) to celebrate. We all loved polis and ate many helpings till we were told we’d had enough and sent off to bed in case we got tummy aches! My love for this sweet endures to this day, and when I travel in south India, I have friends who make it at home and bring it to me wherever I am. I make sure to steal a few minutes from my schedule and enjoy this sweet dish that carries so many memories of childhood for me.
As a child, my day started very early. It began with my mother gently shaking me awake very early in the morning, before sunrise. ‘Abdul, wake up kanna,’ she would call affectionately and I got up, wiping the sleep from my eyes. I had two places to go to before school. One was the Arabic tuition class that all of us attended. There, we learnt to read the Koran. After it was over, I went to my Mathematics teacher’s house. He took a special class for students who showed promise in the subject. I have always loved learning about numbers and their rules and patterns. Addition and subtraction and multiplication and all the other basic functions I had learnt very quickly. Now I was raring to know about more complex problems. My teacher had started the class for students just like me and I enjoyed going there and grappling with number problems in the early hours of the day.
I ran back home once the class was over. My mother would have a hot meal ready. We all ate our fill. In our school, children did not carry tiffin boxes and water bottles so I ate the mid-morning meal hungrily, enjoying the rice and vegetables and chutney and dal. Some days she would make piping hot dosas and I still remember their thick crispy texture and the spicy powder smeared on them.