The smell, the scent, the joy! Puli saatham!

Stories from Home - 2.jpg

“The train sped on, taking me from the ones I loved to an unknown world of the city. I could hear, with every roll of the steel wheels against the hard unforgiving iron rails, the sounds of home getting farther. The fields, the trees, the egrets sitting on patient cows, all blurred into one in a teary world.

I sat back against the seat. I resigned myself to this hard journey, to a life I only dimply comprehend to be ‘my future’. Next to me lay the chothupetti [tiffin carrier, a container commonly seen as a set of three, stacked one above the other and then slipped onto a contraption that linked all three, so that they could be carried as one], tied in a bundle with a soft well-worn square cloth cut from some discarded dress or skirt of my sister’s. I untied it, and lifted the lid of the cothupetti. Ahhhh! The smell, the scent, the joy! Puli saatham! The tamarind rice my mother was famed for!

I ate it slowly, savouring each mouthful through tears. I could almost smell Amma in the rich, sour-hot rice. I had eaten Puli saatham many times on former outings to Keerimalai or Kathirgamam. But none of them tasted like this one: this was ambrosia. It was home”. – S. Arumugam, Letters from Jaffna, as published in ‘Recipes of the Jaffna Tamils‘ pg 19. #storiesfromhome

Photo credit:, Jaffna

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