“Flour, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon powder. That’s it, right? Am I forgetting anything?”

Nani ma used to tell me stories of how obedient Mumma was as a child, especially when it came to eating her food. And the secret was in Nani ma’s puas, which were the less fatty versions of popular malpuas.

“Children are fussy eaters, you just have to find their streak and pua was your Mumma’s. So every day after school, she’d come home happily, anticipating the delectable sweetmeats along with the usual food. Seeing them on the plate made her eyes sparkle. I didn’t have to pester her. Oh, how she loved puas”. Nani ma had asked me to try the same with my 3-year-old Chikki. Not that she’s a fussy eater, but she does get cranky at times.

I mix all the ingredients trying to recall the proportions that Mumma had randomly mentioned. I whip up the batter; “Whip until it’s pasty, only then will puas turn out soft”. I touch it with my fingers; feels about the correct pasty. I put a drop on my tongue, tastes about the correct sweet.

Funnily though, it just so happened that I never got to taste Nani ma’s puas nor did Mumma ever prepare them for me. However, the stories around them stayed with me.

The batter has been sitting aside for half-an-hour now. I put the pan on gas and wait for oil to heat up. I carefully lower a spoonful of batter into the hot oil. Small bubbles embrace it from all sides. After a few seconds, I turn it over. The house is filled with sweet aroma.

Mumma had told me how Nani ma’s puas used to turn out. Looking at my conquest, I try to remember the checklist:

* Round – well almost;

* Well-fried in medium heat – done;

* Caramelized-sugar fragrance – oh absolutely!

I pinch a piece off my almost circular, caramel-colored pua and place it on my tongue after blowing off the heat. They’re just the perfect blend of crunchy-mushiness. I hungrily take a bigger piece off and drown in its cinnamon – cardamom flavor. Chikki would love them too!

Placing a few puas on her favorite oval-shaped steel plate, I prance excitedly towards the balcony where she’s sitting on her swing. She glances at me before seeing what I have for her and squeals exuberantly. “Seeing them on the plate made her eyes sparkle.”

I sit next to her on the chair as she gobbles one.

“Careful, they’re hot!”

She smilingly leans forward while still sitting on the swing and hugged me “Maa.

I fight back my tears and hug her tightly.

“One more, Maa?”

“Of course…umm…beta. They’re all for you.”


Your mother’s Alzheimer’s has wiped off her personality. However, such patients do have certain lingering childhood memories, you could try.

Patient’, I’d detested when the doctor used that term for my bubbly Mumma.

Puas did awaken Mumma’s streak but she presumed me to be Nani ma.

I miss you Mumma.

Parul Srivastava

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