Anandi Tai invited me to her home for lunch. I watched as she packed up her things. First, she put all the fish away, chopping them up into small pieces for easy storage. She stored the fish yet to be sold in a Styrofoam box. Then, she repeatedly got buckets of water and rinsed the floor area, the stall, and the bench on which she had been sitting. She used a brush with metal bristles to scrub off the fish residue from the bench as well as the ground. All the water and trash went into a canal which carried the water into the gutter. Some fish remains and newspaper slowed the path of water in the area near her stall, so she scooped the solid waste out with her hands. The crows and cats eagerly devoured the dead remains of animals. Lastly, Anandi Tai took down the large umbrella that provided shade to her stall. This caused some trouble as the wind reversed the umbrella at one point. Then it would not fold. A man from a nearby shop came and helped her fold it.
When we reached her home, she took off her chappals outside. I followed suite. We entered the drawing room, where a man and a woman were watching Speed, the famous Keanu Reaves film. Without resting, sitting, or even having a glass of water, Anandi Tai went straight to the kitchen and started cooking. She poured oil onto a pan. While she waited for it to sizzle, she cracked an egg into a steel bowl and mixed the yolk and white with her index finger. She poured the mixture onto the hot oil. It hissed menacingly. A few minutes later, a mini omelet was ready.
The omelet was put in a metal plate. Two pre-cooked wheat chapattis were pressed into the remaining oil on the pan and thus warmed. Along with the chapattis and omelete I got a bowl of jhinga, or prawn, sabji. It was simple. It was satisfying. It was delicious.
I looked around her living room. It had one chair, one television, a shrine with 2 photos of Sai Baba, a picture of a goddess named Ekvira, and an idol of Ganesh. A small child (her grandson) was playing in an inflated circular swimming pool outside. This was the home of the lady that has offered me something to eat everyday that I have been sitting at the Koliwada market. Lata Tai had exclaimed later in the day that I should call her Anandi Ma. Since my mother is not here, Anandi Tai is like my mother, because she takes care of me. She is serene. She is helpful. She is consistent in her demeanor, and not loud or rambunctious like some of the other women. She has been around and seems to know what life is really about. She makes sure I am fed without expecting anything in return. Yes, I suppose she is my Koliwada mother.