Tomato Chutney

I have an unwavering love for food. Sam always told me to keep yourself grounded and connected to food, no matter what. Food has all the answers. The answers for one’s sorrow, happiness, gain and loss. You might become rich one day, he said but the food will not differentiate. It will be the same for you and the other person who has less money than you. Give it love, nurture it and preserve it.

That’s how we started planting more trees in our backyard. We started with the pink and white bougainvillea. We planted some tomatoes and mango trees. Come every summer the tomatoes gave us enough fruits to make jams and chutneys, which lasted the whole year. My mother used to make pickles out of the mangoes. She used to dry the mango peels under the hot summer sun and once they were dry, she would marinate them with salt and red chillies in a clay pot and store them in a dark place, inside the house. I still have some of the pickle she made. I eat it everyday with piping hot rice and a spoon of freshly made ghee.

Food is nostalgic. Sam used to love the tomato chutney, we made together. The whole effort of plucking the tomatoes from the backyard, sitting in the veranda, cutting and peeling them, adding the spices in the end, brought so much joy to him. He loved food. I am sure he must be missing it now. As for me, nothing tastes good anymore. No amount of pickle or jam can help me out of this phase. I miss eating with him. Sitting next to him and serving an extra scoop of rice on his plate because I know how tired he used to be after he got home from work. I miss planting more trees in our backyard with him and arguing over who gets to water them first.

The mango trees in the backyard are there but have not give any fruits this summer and so have the tomatoes. All that is left now is a backyard with trees which are dying a slow death and a bowl with just a little tomato chutney to last me this summer.


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