By Nur-Taz Rahman
It was one of those lazy summer vacation afternoons when there is really nothing you want to do, but you are still bored. One of my cousins, about three years older than me, and I, were splayed out on our grandmother’s huge four-poster bed. We were visiting her for the whole day, and she and our mothers were enjoying a siesta. My cousin Paula and I ran out of things to talk about, and were contemplating whether we could go somewhere on this exceptionally hot and humid day. None of us were too enthusiastic on venturing out into the glaring sun of the tropical Bangladesh.
“May be we should get some ice-cream,” Paula suggested. It sounded delicious, but would mean waking up our mothers for money, and then going out to buy the ice-cream. None of which were very appealing.
“May be we could make some ice-cream,” I suggested, armed with no knowledge of ice-cream making, except that the main ingredients milk and sugar were definitely available in grandmother’s kitchen.
“We need an ice-cream maker for that,” said Paula with a huff, “but we could still go raid the kitchen.”
So we tip-toed off towards the kitchen, well-stuffed with the delicacies we had gorged on during lunch, but for which we had no present appetite. Some cautious looking around caught none of our fancies. We leaned against the counter, bored expressions on our faces. I picked up a cook book from grandmother’s shelf. It was filled with recipes for cold drinks, and I read one of the first ones named “Fresh fruit punch.” As I read the recipe, my thirst of a cold drink became a throbbing sensation in my throat. “Hey, let’s make this punch!” I told Paula, and so easy was the recipe, that she immediately jumped into the band-wagon.
We carefully assembled the blender, and juiced out sliced watermelons. While I peeled some oranges, Paula strained the juiced watermelons, collecting only the clear liquid. I saved some orange sections for later as the recipe suggested, and in the meanwhile, Paula made some clear pineapple juice. We were so busy making the punch that we put little thought into what would happen when grandmother would notice that all her cut fruits in the fridge were gone.
Grandmother’s kitchen was a well-stocked one, so we had no trouble finding the white pepper, the sea-salt, and the sugar. Problem arose when we had to make some ginger juice. The recipe called for a meager one-fourth tea spoon of it, but yet, we were convinced we needed it. So we took out a ginger, and stared at its strange shape, wondering how we were supposed to peel it, and then make juice out of it.
Paula, being the elder one, ventured to peel it with the sharpest looking knife we found. She ordered me to stand a few feet away, since it looked like pretty dangerous business. So I stood far away, craning my neck to look at how she peeled the root with choppy slices of the knife. Eventually she got the skin off the ginger, although she had cut out large chunks of the ginger at the same time. The most important thing, I thought, was that her digits were still attached to her hand. Paula let me cut up whatever was left of the ginger, into small pieces, which I did very carefully, slowly, and sloppily. We put the pieces into the blender, and made more ginger juice than we wanted.
With all the juices at hand, we mixed them up according to the recipe: Three cups of watermelon juice, with one cup of orange juice, and one cup of pineapple juice. To this we added the 1/4th tea spoon of ginger juice, white pepper, and sea-salt. After stirring these very well in a large jug, we added three-fourths of a cup of sugar and half-a-teaspoon of salt. Paula kept stirring the juice to make everything dissolve well, while I cut out eight orange sections into small pieces to be thrown into the fruit punch.
Once we were done we looked at each other, excited to finish the project, but anticipating its taste. She brought down two small glasses from the closet, and I added two ice cubes to each. Paula carefully poured juice into each glass. We silently toasted to our mischievous accomplishment in the hot afternoon, and sipped our punch. To this day, I think that was the most thirst-quenching punch I have ever drunk.
Hey, I am not being biased. You should have seen how our mothers and grandmother devoured that jug of punch after waking from their siesta! You need more proof that it was good? Our grandmother did not seem to mind the least bit that all her fruits were gone. And if you need more convincing, just make it yourself and sip!