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According to mother, I was exceedingly fond of milk as a toddler. Milk in the morning, mid-morning, noon, evening and before bedtime. In short, any time of the day or even night, was milk-time for me. I had a steel kunji glass and a kunji plate of my own, gifted by someone or other on my first birthday. (Kunji means ‘little’ and both the glass and plate were smaller than the regular sized ones) Whenever I was hungry, I took my kunji glass along and stated my request. ‘I am hungry, I want milk!‘ The direct approach, always the best.

When I was almost two and in the prime of my milk-love, mother and I went to our ancestral home to stay with my grandparents. Mother was pregnant and due to deliver my sister in a few weeks. The grandparents kept cows, and milk was plentiful. Every morning the cows were milked, and the fresh milk boiled in a large vessel on an old-fashioned aduppu, a traditional wood-fed stove. It was heaven of sorts for me.

After the morning tea was made for the adults in the household, and the little milk fiend (that’s me!) and cousins were fed their share, the leftover milk was stored in a wooden cupboard with metal nets on its doors to keep it safe from the thieving cats of the neighborhood. By mid-morning, or sooner, I’d be standing in front of the cupboard, tapping the door gently with my kunji glass.

Mother, before leaving for her long oil bath, would have left strict instructions to whoever was minding me. No more milk for her before lunch. So the direct approach had to be discarded and instead the subterfuge of puppy eyes used in its place. Mother had her reasons, of course. Filling myself up with milk meant I’d have no appetite for other kinds of food. But seeing me standing forlornly in front of the cupboard, someone or other took pity and filled up my glass.

Years passed, and I turned five. By then I was eating other kinds of foods, but still guzzling milk twice a day. Our family had moved to a new place and I suddenly hated milk. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know. Theories have been put forward. One of them being that it had been the change from cow milk to buffalo milk that put me off. But no, I found I hated cow milk equally so. Not even adding chocolate or Bournvita or Horlicks could mask the detested milk- taste. Ugh.

Milk-Fan to Milk-Hater, the transformation was sudden and absolute, and remains so to this day. Mother says that’s because I drank up all the milk meant for a lifetime by the time I was five. I guess she has a point. 😉

© Shail Mohan 2020

It is not easy to type with one arm in an arm sling. A stretch injury. Shh… don’t tell anyone I am typing.