Have I ever told you that my father subconsciously has an excellent taste in sweets? Probably not.
Well, every time my dad comes into the city, he makes it a point to bring us two or more boxes of sweets. Traditional, Indian sweets to be precise and not any mushy candies or chocolates. And somehow he always knows the right kind of sweets to buy! He would never buy those syrup laden sweets gushing like valleys filled with jaggery streams or those sweets irrationally sprinkled with sugar powder. The sweets he buys are always neat. A nut or two or sprinkled saffron atop and not much fancy about it. They are dim coloured and juicy on the inside, but taste homely and wholesome at the same time.
I have always had a very deep attachment with opening presents. The speed and frills about me just come to a halt whenever I have to unwrap a gift. The wrapping paper ends neatly folded and fresh as ever, and the box remains candid and unscratched. You can imagine the delicacy I would treat a box of sweets with. Ironically enough, I poke a fork right through the middle of yellow coloured decorative film over the box and cut it to strips and snitches like a cat with a ball of wool. The lid however is always removed slowly and steadily, revealing neither too early nor with overwhelming and prolonged suspense the contents inside.
I would like to take this moment to mention that in India, like in many countries, there is an immediate link between happy occasions and dessert. Sweetening is never missed in any good menu. Exquisite desserts are always a part of special occasions. People in Indian families are born attached with a sweet tooth. In tradition, sweet curd is eaten before starting any venture, and kheer is cooked on birthdays. Spending strenuous hours preparing time-consuming dessert recipes becomes a matter of the day. This is what I had always picked as an idea of a typical Indian family reading rooted novels or storybooks. Alas, against all odds, I am not a person with a taste for sweets. Hence, the only way sweets get into my house is when my father buys them while coming home.
But as I eat the spongy nameless yellow puddings he brought home this time, it occurs to me that it is only the sweets that my father gets home that I ever tend to eat. Had the same sweet been presented to me by anyone dear or at home I would have never considered robbing a bite into it. It is perhaps the sentiment attached with the homecoming present which gives it its exclusive taste. It is the happiness of my father being home that thrills me instead of the perfectness of the sweet.
Yet this realisation does not lessen the beauty of the sweets. Anything that indexes a halt in the endless retreat and arrival of loved ones is a boon. And if sweets shall be it, then I can gallop quite few.