I’m sure many of you have seen this fluffy white hairy seed floating around during your childhood. And spent hours trying to catch them as they float dreamily around in the summer breeze. It comes from the Scarlet Milkweed plant pod, also known as Kakatundi in Hindi. The pretty red flowers grow into pods and when ripe, the pods burst open releasing hundreds of these fluffy floaty seeds that fill the air.
I remember these seeds during my early childhood in Ahmednagar and have distinct memories of playing with these seeds as my Ajji (grandmother) watched me. I used to spend a good part of the evening chasing them, trying hard to jump and catch them as they dreamily floated into the front yard of our old colonial red tiled bungalow.
On one such warm summer evening, as I sat on the front steps of our home with my grandmother, I caught one milkweed seed as it floated in front of us. My Ajji said that it was her mother visiting her. I was intrigued by what she said but I did not question her because of the look in her eye. She had a faraway look, I put it away as her missing her mother and just snuggled closer to her. She then said something, that has stayed with me.
“Whenever you see this seed, remember, I’m thinking of you and I’ve come to give you a kiss. “
So yesterday I saw this little seed floating and coming to rest near my feet. It pulled me right back to that warm evening almost 36 years ago.
I had not thought about my Ajji for a while now, but I guess she was thinking of me. That moment brought everything back of her to me, her smell of talc and Adike (betelnut), her belly shaking laughter, her jingling gold bangles, her soft wrinkled elbow, her bear hug, her numerous stories from the Bible, Mahabharata and old Kannada Folk songs.
I love you Ajji, growing up I felt you were my biggest ally and the only one on this Earth who could tell Daddy off for constantly bugging me about studies. But you gave me him and I love you for that too.