Terracotta, meet Gutkha; Gutkha, meet Terracotta

I am the only artistic guy in my family. From a young age, Indian artifacts always intrigued me. I would love to go to places like Lepakshi, Cauvery or Kalanjali in Hyderabad and look at the beautiful handicrafts they had. Most were well beyond my budget. I would finally settle for something like a small Ganesh idol.

Over the years, I acquired a small collection of terracotta pots of various sizes. Some of these costed a mini-fortune. I picked the rest from quaint shops in the corners of noisy streets. I placed all these in my house in different locations.

Now, cut to a different topic - my extended family.

Gutkha-chewing has been a vice that has afflicted many of the male-folk of my father's and grandfather's generation. A known carcinogenic, people did not frown upon Gutkha as much as cigarettes or alcohol. So, the wives did not crib too much about it. Some would even grab a teaspoonful after a heavy meal.

The only thing more disgusting than someone talking with Gutkha in their mouth is the sight of someone spitting it out in random places. As a result, we end up with roads, staircase-wall-corners and commodes lined with red patches or spots. 

Family lunches and dinners were very common. Those were the days where you could barge into someone's house without as much as a phone call. So the entire family - the total number would be just shy of fifty - would often gather either for a pot-luck or a hosted meal, often without occasion, every once in a way.

The meals were fun times. All the cousins got to catch up. The uncles would chat about the stock market or politics. The ladies would share recipes and weight-loss hacks. If it was dinner, a singing session would always follow the meal; we had several talented singers in the family.

We organised one such lunch at my house one Sunday afternoon. After the meal, those who were used to the Gutkha, reached out to their pouches for a dose. One uncle, grand-uncle actually, was one of them. My cousins and I were chatting on the dining table as the uncles and aunts were chit-chatting in the living room. One of my more expensive terracotta pots was on one corner of the lawn that was right next to the living room.

After a few minutes, the grand-uncle decided it was time to spit his Gutkha. He probably did not want to go all the way to the loo. He looked around to search for something that would relieve him from the Gutkha juices filling his mouth. Hie eye spotted the terracotta pot. I noticed him from the corner of my eye walking towards the pot. I thought he was going to see it and admire its beauty. I continued watching him walk towards it, half-expecting a compliment on the design. He reached the pot. He bent forward. He wants a closer look, I thought to myself.

My eyes opened wide, my mouth wider, my throat unable to find a voice as I saw the man spit into the pot. Sacrilege! I found my voice and shouted out in Gujarati as my entire family turned to see what had happened. "What did you do?"

"What happened?"

"Why did you spit there?"

"It is only a mud pot. What's the big deal?"

I realised the futility of arguing further as the rest of my family burst out laughing on realising what he'd done.

I didn't dare look inside the wretched pot. It was used to fussing, pampering, a daily dose of gentle cleaning. On that day, it must have felt violated. 

A few days passed before I had the pot kept in a less visible area of the house. Over the years, it accumulated dust and grime before being disposed off for nothing.

I have hated Gutkha from my gut ever since that day.


Anonymous said…
That was a fun read! :D