This story will surely leave you with a taste of the 'great' curry. The narrative is quite popular with friends. Well, what are friends for if they can't tell...!

It was years ago when I was still a kid. One night I fell asleep propped up in bed. The problem is, I was sleeping on my arm and when I suddenly woke up, my arm was still asleep and totally numb. 

When your arm falls asleep, and you try to shake it awake, it hurts for a few seconds as the feeling returns and your arm begins tingling. This is what exactly happened to me. When I tried to shake my arm awake, my hand hurt. 

After waking my hand, I sipped a glass of water and crawled back into bed again. Just when I was about to put off the lights, a cockroach skittered out from the bedside table drawer and looked at me twitching its antennae. Before I could smash it, the thing ran down to the floor and disappeared.

As I got off the bed, I saw another cockroach, or maybe the same one. I trapped the little bastard under a drinking glass and watched him try to get out. 

"There...!" I said, "You can stay there till you starve..."

When I woke up next morning nothing had changed. I looked at the cockroach under the glass. It was alive. I remembered my little rubber sling but I wasn't about to use it on the poor creature.

As I geared up to go to school, I saw my dad moving up in the kitchen obsessively. "Your mom is down with fever..." 
he said, "don't wake her up..." 

"What about breakfast...How can I go to school without...." I asked.

"Here..! Eat this omelette...take some 'chapatis' I fried..."

I took a 'chapati' from the container, it looked funny. "Looks good....nice shape...Why did you take trouble giving them 'star' shapes, dad...?"

He looked at me grimly as I took a bite of the omelette. "Yyakkk!!!'s so salty..."

" complaints please!" he said, "Just eat it quick...i'll get you the milk..."

"I can't eat is so terrible...let's keep it for mom to see...I guess I'll ask her to make soup out of it later for lunch..."

When I came back home from school, mom was still sleeping. I found dad in the kitchen again.

"Hey..." he waved.

"Oh...I am hungry..." I said.

"Food is getting ready...Will you just ask your mom to eat with us?" he said trying to act busy with the cooking. "I've made a special curry, am sure she will love it."

Dad was not a bad cook and he delighted in tasting everything. I guess I've picked up some of his cuisine skills, his tips come handy sometimes. 

There are many other things which my dad taught me, things I couldn't learn from anyone else. Be it any subject - from tightening a screw and sharpening a chisel to operation of a space shuttle to functioning of a share market. I just had to ask and he would explain in detail. 

I remember his immense patience, exuberant temper and sense of humor. But most of all, I remember I loved him. It's hard now to recall anything that made me sad when he was around. "Dad I love you're with the angels them how to fly..."

Much to my mother's chagrin was his preoccupation with her domain - the kitchen. He was always cooking something, re-inventing old recipes...adding ingredients and leaving the remains of his art everywhere for mom to clean. She would always eat his over spicy, over seasoned foods with tempered enthusiasm so as not to hurt his feelings. 

Taste mattered little to me or anyone else in our home but my mother's taste remains aristocratic to this day.

I touched her hand and woke her up. "Ma, are you alright?..." 

She got up from the bed coughing uncontrollably but managed to shake her head meaning "Yes...yes...yes..."

"You don't want to eat?" I asked.

"I'll just have some bread toast or biscuit and tea..."

Dad insisted she eat a little rice just to taste the curry he had made. 

"It's a curry of 'sukim sungttam', plain dried prawns....We have some veg, fried fish too, and mango 'miskut' if you want..."

"Okay, okay......" mom said gingerly.

"Curry looks good...superb...nice color..." I said even before I tasted. "What have you named this curry, dad?"

He kept funny names for whatever he cooked. Sometimes I named his dishes suited for the make and taste; he found them quite amusing and memorable too like:

Bruce Lee crabs (Crab 'Xacuti' cooked in coconut gravy) which made me struggle to eat with both hands; hence that tag. Jumping Chicken Chilli (Frog chilly fry), Pork Rafael (marinated and fried pork - dubbed in dad's name in line with the famous Goan dish - Chicken Cafreal), Tiger Roast (Beef Roast - named Tiger Roast because of dad's habitual 'tiger growl' belch whilst eating this particular dish), Anddha Kanoon Curry (egg curry), etc.         

"What's this curry called?" I asked again.

"It is just a plain 'binddam solam koddi'...I am sure mom will like it..." he said appetizingly as ma helped herself to a spoonful of rice and curry.

"Like it?..." she shuddered looking down at her plate. "Look at this....the rice is floating on the curry...Is it curry or some 'masala' water?...You think I am going to eat this?...Go, throw it away...!" she said pushing the plate.

Dad was real disappointed with her comments. 

"What the hell..!" he snapped, "I took much trouble grating coconut 'ros', sweated to stone grind the chillies and spices to almost half a bowl of paste to make it thick...and all you say...Oh, come-on..., have a little more..."

He adroitly stirred the curry afresh and was about to empty another 'chip' in her plate when she objectively put her hand in-between. The spoon slipped from his hand with a flick and the curry strangely got splashed high up on the wall.

Dad barked angrily in a colorful language, "#!@#$%....You may go back to sleep if you don't want to eat...but just don't complain about my cooking!...Go...get lost...!"

Luckily for dad, he wasn't within mom's kicking range. She just got up and left the table muttering under her breath.

I attacked my plate and continued eating. Poor dad tried to eat too but I noticed he was toying with the food.

"You like the curry?" he asked me rather sheepishly.

"Ummm..." my mouth was full.

"Isn't it tasty?" he asked again. I guessed he expected at least a sympathetic reply after mom's discontented outbursts.

I wondered if taste mattered to me. I was so hungry I could have eaten an elephant. I helped myself to another round of fish fry and curry. It was not because of the curry at all as dad might have thought.

Still, to please him I said casually, "Nice dad...the curry is very delicious..."

He seemed doubly pleased with the compliment. "Have more..." he said and filled my plate with more rice and curry literally serving me like a 'fighter' buffalo. 

There was a limit to my eating and I wanted to say 'No' but not to upset him further I forced myself to gulp down everything.

"Ma just can't make curries like you....this is super..!" I said.

"See???.... Any five star would be proud to have me as their chef...but your mother...she just cannot stand the fact I am a better cook than her...see what she has done."

He eyed the curry splashed up on the wall. The splatter had dried up pretty quick and it appeared to have been plastered with a design for display.

"Dad..., I suggest we keep it that way for all our relatives and neighbors to see....Let them know.... It should remain proof enough of your great cooking..., Every time ma cooks something flavorless, we can point out to this splashed curry and remind her how good you really cook...!"

He looked at me unsmiling, "Are you trying to kid me, kiddo...?"

"Am serious dad....we can even chalk down the date under the splash so we remember the day this was cooked. Cook your favorite 'Ambot-tik' tomorrow, we can splash a spoon of that too....we'll write a date beneath and name it as well..."

The curry indeed remains splashed in my memory - not for its taste but for an incident that occurred next morning. It was some holiday and we didn't have to go to school. Dad was away at work. It was quite late when my mother interrupted me catching butterflies and asked to join her for 'canji' or 'pez' as Goans call it.

"Ma, I want the curry dad made yesterday - 'kalchi koddi'...!" I screamed back.

The clay utensil was steaming as I entered the kitchen. Mom always used this secret of making 'kalchi koddi' yum-yum tasty by adding a little sugar before 'Attoi-ing' the curry till the water evaporated. My mouth watered as I waited. The taste of any yesterday's curry, beautifully warmed and thickened surely beats all other tastes to this day.

It was indeed tasty. Ma too loved it despite her slender appetite to dad's dishes. She went along for a very uncharacteristic second helping.

"That's it...I'll finish the rest..." I said and pulled the utensil closer.

The purple-black 'bindda solam' or 'kokum' with the tamarind family taste gave an additional essence to any 'kalchi koddi'. The best thing I always loved was to suck a 'bindda sol' at the end of a meal.

"Dad sure can cook well...This curry is really tasty, isn't it?" I said as I tilted the utensil to polish off the bottom leaving nothing but one 'bindda sol'.

"Mom, you know what.., am going to write a date under that splashed curry on the wall...We got to remember the taste...It's great..."

I put the last 'bindda sol' in my mouth and sucked. It tasted unusually different. 
Nevertheless, I sucked till it was dry. Just before disposing, I examined the 'bindda sol' once again to ensure it was fully drained. To my utter shock instead of a 'bindda sol' it was a dead cockroach! For a moment it made my face look like Narsimha Rao's grandmother...

...No holds barred I rushed to the bedroom armed with my rubber sling.
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