Last week I was on a flight leaving India after a brief visit seeing family. As the flight took off from Delhi I noticed a woman in the row ahead of me looking at the tarmac as the plane lifted off the ground- I recognised that look in her eyes so well: the pain of saying farewell to the motherland as you leave your soil or “mitti”. It has been 27 years since I left India and moved to live in England. I still feel that ache whenever I leave- a tug in the heart-a prayer that my next trip will be soon-worry for my parents who seems more fragile every trip.
Then my mind drifted to other things- till food was served and I saw the tiny packet of Amul Butter on the tray. This was the butter I grew up eating- it was the ONLY butter available when I was young. Spread on hot chapati or toast- melting over steamed rice- Amul was more than just butter- it was also the company that did really clever outdoor advertisements that were witty and very topical-and in an pre-social media era- it was always on a subject that today would be “trending” on twitter! I could not use that tiny packet of butter. I put it in my handbag to carry it back to London.
As I put the butter away I was reminded of a story told to me by one of my servants about his grandfather who would tie a fistful of soil in a cloth and give it to his son whenever he left the village to go to the city. So his son was connected to the soil even though he was going to be miles away. I had Amul butter.