Pattu Mami’s Filter Coffee
Pattu mami was famous for her filter coffee, or rather kapi to be precise. She lived in a serene village Agraharam (row houses resided by Brahmins) surrounded by beautiful mountains, lush green fields and gentle rivers. She was a great devotee of the Narayana who guarded the people living around him. Everyone loved the rich taste of her filter coffee and she was quick to offer a glass to whoever knocked at her door . Pattu mami was a simple soul elated by the simplest words or praise.”Pattu mami!when you temper your mor kozhambu(a tangy yogurt based curry),the aroma tickles the nose of the person even 4 streets away!!”Lalitha would remark when she comes to borrow some sugar or rice from Pattu mami.”Here Lalitha, there’s your sugar and here, taste some of my mor kozhambu too!”Pattu mami would immediately fill a small vessel of the tangy yogurt curry she had just tempered. She would never send anyone away without offering them a steaming cup of her frothy filter kapi. The taste of which never once altered. “No one can make filter coffee like you Pattu mami!” her neighbors would remark while Pattu mami blushed with embarrassment & joy. Just like her coffee, Pattu mami was also unaltered even after going through the many seasons of life. Her flawless skin still had a golden glow due to the repeated use of turmeric and gram flour instead of fancy soaps while bathing. Her activities mostly revolved around the Narayana temple and helping her neighbors in whatever way she could. Pattu mami had spent her entire life raising her only son,’Ananthanarayanan’, named after her favorite deity and affectionately known as Ambi. Well, now let me tell you! you can never go wrong guessing a Brahmin boys nickname! every family had an Ambi or a Cheenu or Mani! not to forget, Chandroo, Vaithi and Balaji! Anyways, Pattu mami’s Ambi was a soft spoken well mannered boy. Pattu mami, A young widow had spent every bit of her energy instilling good values and providing good education to Ambi by selling mouth watering snacks such as ‘muruku, cheedai, thattai etc…’After finishing his education Ambi had pursued his dream of joining the Indian army and serving the country and Pattu mami supported him whole heartedly though a tiny part of her squirmed in uncertainty that was always tagged along with being in the army. Ambi had asked her to stop toiling over hot oil making perfect spirals that people got addicted to. Her snacks were as famous as her coffee. He sent her money every month along with letters describing his adventurous life and the geographical beauty of the north where he was posted. He also wrote about the impending war and that he would be going to the battlefield anytime. His letters supplied enough material for pattu mami to strike up a conversation with her neighbors, friends and just about anyone she met. ”You know ,the place where Ambi is posted is very cold!!But he has to wake up at the crack of dawn even in that harsh climate, after all duty calls!!”Pattu mami would start of animatedly to anyone willing to listen. ”Poor boy going through so much hardship ,what with the war hovering around his head like a dark cloud” she would sigh ”but you know he has written that there is a small temple nearby which he visits whenever he gets time!”mami would add happily. So after Ambi’s loving order to stop making &selling snacks, Pattu mami kept herself happy by serving her Lord with her devotion and serving the village people with her signature filter kapi.
One sunny morning Pattu mami was returning from the temple after finishing her morning round of Darshan of her Narayana and chanting his name as she slowly walked the narrow street leading to her house, when she saw a green army jeep pull up in front of her house.”Ambi!” she cried happily. ”It must be my Ambi. He must have decided to surprise me by not writing to me about his arrival” She mumbled to herself as she rushed home.”Ambi! Ambi!”She called out reaching the jeep. Just then two perfect strangers stepped out of the jeep. ”You must be Ananthanarayanan’s mother?” one of them asked .”Yes! Yes! I’m Ambi’s mother! Are you his friends? Did he send you? Please come in!”mami hurriedly offered opening the house. “Yes we are his friends. We work with him. I am Babu and this is Pradeep”.One of them said. They quickly exchanged glances, pulled out a small box very carefully from the jeep and followed Pattu mami inside the house. ”Please sit down! It is very hot ,let me switch on the fan for you.”Pattu mami said panting for breath from rushing home and the excitement of meeting her Ambi’s friends. “Tell me, how is my Ambi? is he eating well? what kind of food do they serve at the Army? Only chapattis? Does he get any rice at all?” she poured various questions at them. ”You know he loves my onion sambhar and potato fry! and also my filter coffee! talking of which, let me get you some coffee. You boys have come a long way!”Pattu mami smiled and hurried inside to get her masterpiece. The gentlemen kept mum and exchanged glances. They could not be blamed because Pattu mami did not give them time to even say a word. She came back after 5 minutes bringing along with her the aroma of richly brewed coffee. Her hands balanced a tray with two tumblers of steaming filter coffee and a plate containing her spiral delights,’muruku’.”Here boys, help yourself and I’ll prepare lunch in a jiffy! I can’t let my Ambi’s friends leave my house on an empty stomach! “She said pretending to look horrified at even the thought of them leaving without partaking lunch. She placed the tray on the modest table in front of them and handed out the coffee tumblers.”Babu, why are you still holding that box? what is it? Did Ambi send it for me?” she asked with a smile.”errr……yes.”Babu mumbled. “OH this silly boy keeps sending me something or the other when I’ve told him hundred times that I don’t need anything except his welfare! My Narayana has given me more than I always wanted “She sighed happily. ”Ok what has he sent?” she asked curiously, smiling all the time. ”Himself” Babu said quietly .He slowly opened the box and pulled out a small silver pot covered with a red silk cloth. He held it in his outstretched hands with tears in his eyes and said, ”The war is over. ”The coffee tumbler slipped from Pattu mami’s hands and crashed on the floor, the rich aromatic coffee forming a puddle beneath her shivering feet.