Coming from a long line of bakers, you would think that baking would come naturally to me. For me, baking is a craft I am still learning.
The day before my grandad died, I wanted to bake, not one but two coffee cakes. There was a sense of harmony as the sugar, eggs, and flour blended together and when they came out of the oven, it was a thing of beauty. The smell of coffee lingered in the air as I slathered the icing around the way and honestly, the cake looked like a show-stopper. I thought I had finally tapped into my baking skills and I was so pleased with myself…until I took a bite of the cake.
Something felt off. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I recapped the steps, I got the bowl, sieved in the flour, added the eggs, the sugar…I didn’t put the butter.
I forgot to put the butter in the cake.
How did I forget to put BUTTER in a cake?
I look around the kitchen to see the lonely butter sitting outside melting away looking ashamed and honestly, looked a little embarrassed for me.
I’m not sure what was passed on to me from my grandad. It wasn’t his baking ability. But grandad has passed away.
This time last year, I saw my stoic father breakdown in grief sitting on a hospitable bed recovering from my post-op infection. I had to be comforted by my sister who was learning about motherhood in the midst of her grief. I learnt that blubbering incoherent words at your manager with tears streaming down your face can get you sent home to grieve. When you get sent home at 5:30am, still crying like a baby, you tend to forget how to get home, what bus stop to get off at it and when you eventually make it home, all you want to do is sleep.
On that day, just as the sun was coming up, I thought a lot about Appapan, the man who he was, the pain that he was in and what I would have said if I got a chance. I don’t think I will ever forget the days he would come home with foods or treats that would get us so excited. All the endless cricket matches he would watch and eventually fall asleep. His snore sounded like a roar that echoed through the walls and became part of the white noise that filled the house.
A year on from his passing, I don’t know what my epic goodbye message would have been. In reality, our intimate goodbye happened months before, holding his hand, looking into his eyes and allowing the silence to replace the words. I didn’t need to hear him say the words but I knew he loved me. I hope and pray that he knew that I loved him too. I hope he knows that he made a mark in our lives and the world will never be the same without him in it – for starters, every vada shop took a hit when he passed away.
I hope he knows that I miss him and the pain of not having him here on earth will be nothing compared to the joy I will have when I see him again. Until then appapa, rest easy. I hope you are dreaming of epic crickets matches where India surprises you and wins the game. I hope you are having vadas and a quarter and not worry about them clogging your artery or ruining your liver. I hope you and Jesus are having a good time talking about your childhood and about Kerala.
Until then appapa, I will make sure to do you proud and eventually learn to bake a proper cake with butter and give you credit.
Lots of love,
Linu (your favourite granddaughter)