Kaju Badam

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The Indian Muslim is a hoarder of dry fruits. It is an ingrained tendency, this reverence of the higher nuts. I learned the way of the kaju-badam very early on in my life. My father would bring home bags of nuts from his trips and mother would promptly stow them away. Candy bars would be dispensed with a liberal hand but a nutty treat was a rare and auspicious occasion. I fished for them in the kheer, trying to get as much in a single scoop as I could get away with, and I sucked on pistachio shells till I got my way with the last speck of glazed salt.

I started school and visiting my non-Muslim friends’ homes. Hospitality was manifested through bountiful bowls of my favourite nuts. I indulged myself and produced some of the richest farts of my time. Educated in monetary units, I tried to match my family’s income with that of my friends’. We had the same cars and our houses were on equal sized plots. The nut divide remained inexplicable.

I have been an observer of the nut subculture ever since. I have received many nuts-in-a-box gifts (mostly corporate) and spent much time contemplating the nut-to-cardboard ratio and completely figuring out how the nuts-in-a-box-powers-that-be were taking the consumers for a ride. I would snarl at friends if they so much as reached for my box of nuts. But then I groped my subconscious (very appropriately) and unlearned my nut-related preconceptions, and toned it down considerably.

The important lesson is not to contemplate the nut, or revere it. It is important to enjoy the nut and to share it. Feed nuts to your children. And sometimes just be the nut.

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