Some of the fondest memories we all have of childhood are summer vacations at our grandparents’ house. My summer holidays mostly started with the dusty roads of Bareilly, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. The first sight of nana-nani’s house was nani standing outside the house waiting to meet us.

Nothing in nani’s body language betrayed how happy she was to see us. Grandmas, I feel, are too dignified to show excessive emotions. But there used to be this distinctive expression on her face, as if a smile was just bursting to show itself upon her lips. It was only her eyes, and her voice, which exuded her happiness.

So after meeting her, nana, and the rest of the family, we would all go inside the house and nani’s crusade to feed us as much as possible would start.

There was a small storeroom, almost hidden in the corner of nani’s room, which was kept locked all the time. Very few people were given the honour to go inside, but due to our short-lived stay, we got full access.

This dimly-lit storeroom was the repository of the biggest treasures of the house then, and the source of major nostalgia now. It had a lot of steel drums- all containing yummy food which nani had prepared in the anticipation of our arrival. One steel drum always contained besan ke laddoos and would fill the whole room with the aroma of ghee and sugar the moment you opened it. Another one was filled with mathris and sewiyaan (fried flour snacks) of all sizes possible. And during holi week, one extra drum would contain gujiyas. Imagine the joy of a tiny child digging into a seemingly endless pit of sweets and fried snacks!

Grandmothers and their grandchildren have this unspoken language of food. They show love by making food for you, and you compliment them by eating as much as you can.

That small paunch you have now because all that childhood ghee is not fat. It is a way for your grandma to stay with you forever. 😛

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