“Aren’t you bored of the mixed vegetables?”, asked my wife Mona after yet another night of my request for the colourful culinary dish.
I took a spoonful of the vegetables onto my plate, splaying it at the periphery of my smallish pile of rice, before forwarding them to my mouth. There I let the flavours hit my palate, savouring the moment.
I looked at my wife beside me, and then at my mother in front of us.
“I never get tired of these mixed vegetables”, I said to them, glancing at my daughter on my right.
“I took them not just because of their taste”, I explained further, “I took them because they remind me of …. Aunt Haliah.”
Mom stopped eating and looked at me quietly.
When I was a kid, my late aunt used to prepare for me the mixed vegetables all the time. She would add a bit of garlic, and onions and fry them on the wok, adding a bit of salt in the process. The smell would waft into the living room where I would normally be seated, signalling that dinner was ready.
For me, the vegetables were a treat. It reminded me of old times, of being a small boy, secure in the care of my aunt and mother. The vegetables were one of my favourite dish. They still are.
“Sorry, hun”, said my wife finally understanding my infatuation with the simple dish.
“No worries”, I had said with my eyes unfocused, lost in the tapestry of time – seeing a small boy enjoying food cooked by his aunt : a dish definitely prepared with all the right ingredients – hearty and warm.