“It’s been over fifteen years and mum still has the bite mark on the back of her shoulder” said my first cousin Kavitha at a family lunch.
A month ago we were at my dad’s cousins house for lunch for the first time since they moved into it. There was a lot of food, enough to drown in and die of satisfaction.
We started the meal with Ragi muddhe (hot Ragi balls) and nati-chicken (local protein rich variety of chicken) curry, and there was a plate of sliced onions and cucumber in the centre and another plate of deep fried chicken – that we call kabab- was served to each of us, along with the spicey chicken gravy.
The second course of the meal was chicken Biryani, a raitha (curd salad) and a plate of fried goat intestines (boti). The goat intestines are boiled to softness first, then fried with onions, tomatoes, garlic, salt, home made chicken masala, fried corriander seed powder and all of that in refined vegetable oil.
Taking a bite of boti feels like a tapori song in my mouth, after each bite the music gets faster, the juices fill my mouth and Jyothi Lakshmi is inviting me to join her.
There was some -plain or white- rice, rasam, curd and few more things I didn’t have space for. I don’t remember if there was dessert because my brain took a nap.
My family has a weird habit, at family lunches we gang up to discuss family history, scandal’s, and end the evening with jokes and humour. It started with a session of bitching, talking about an alternative future and moved on to sharing anecdotes. Kavitha had shared the story of me biting my aunt (her mom) when she was holding me back from tagging with my relatives, who I’m being told were heading out on their honeymoon. To be fair, I was only two years old. Then my mother retold Kavitha’s favorite story, ‘the biting game.’
“Vini started screaming loudly all of sudde; it was the night after Kavitha’s wedding, her parents had taken vini and Renu (my sister) home from the wedding and I was with Kavitha at her in-laws (Brides family members come along and stay a few days with newlyweds family, some custom). Renu asked him to play ‘the biting game’ with her and took the first bite. The screams got Kavitha’s mom who smacked Renu and this one (me-vini) says ‘aunty my sister only know, it’s okay don’t hit her.’ This pissed her off and she smacked him instead” said my mother.