Each year, we grow a little older, and our eyes see a little lesser. Oh, the eyes above the nose are in fine working order. I'm talking about the other pair. The one that's in the mind. The one that can see more than the obvious. An imagination's eyes.
When I see a small red car on the road, I see a car that's small, and red in colour. My daughter sees a giant ladybird running past. When the moon becomes a thin, curved sliver, I see a moon that is a thin, curved sliver. My daughter sees a "happy moon" because it's curved into a smile.
Her imagination knows no bounds. she's always traveling to faraway places. Yesterday she took a train and chugged up a rainbow, right to the top. Why? Because the lines of a rainbow look like a railway track, of course!
The best part is, every time she travels, I get to hitch a ride.
Her senses record the smallest things. A few days ago, we woke up to a gloomy English sky. There was no rain, but the clouds were like dark grey puddles in the sky. She looked up at the black clouds, and suddenly started doing a mad little tap-dance all over the floor. Aami brishti, she said in Bengali. I'm the rain!
She was a year-and-a-half when summer turned to autumn. On a walk through the park, she pointed to the trees and told me that the green leaves were wearing brown jackets. Just like that. Like an offhand observation, said in a second. But, for the rest of my life, that's how I'll remember autumn - green leaves in brown jackets.
Last week, she did a drawing of me on her blackboard, then called me into the room to show me the artwork. "Look, it's you!" I clapped, gave her a kiss and went back to my work. After a few seconds she called me in again, and showed me the blackboard. This time, there was nothing on it. Just an empty, black blackboard. "Look, you've gone to the shop!"
There are so many of these moments, every day. Too many to remember. To her, even the alphabets are alive. An 'e' is like a 'c' with an eye. And 'f' is like a kitchen tap. Everything is something else.
I became a year older yesterday. Older and wiser, they say. I'm happy to be older. But Wisdom often comes with its friends, Practicality and Reality. So, Wisdom can wait. For now, I'd rather be whimsical than wise. It lets me see a little more than the obvious. It lets me hop on to a train with Chotto-ma, and chug to the top of the rainbow.For my birthday, we decided on a cake that the three of us - Chotto-ma, D and I - could make together. A No-Bake Raspberry & Basil Cheesecake. It was messy-play at its best.
The cheesecake is an adaptation of one of Nigella Lawson's recipes. Her's, however, was a Cherry Cheesecake, and you can find her recipe here.
No-Bake Raspberry & Basil Cheesecake
For the cheesecake:
125g digestive biscuits
75g soft butter
300g cream cheese
60g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250ml double cream
For the topping:
400g punnet raspberries
25g icing sugar
A few basil leaves
Chocolate powder for dusting
For the topping, mix the raspberries, sugar and basil leaves in a bowl and crush it all together with your hands. Make sure you bruise the leaves, so the scents and flavours all seep into each other. Refrigerate.
Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until beginning to turn to crumbs, then add the butter and whiz again to make the mixture clump.
Press this mixture into a 20cm springform tin; press a little up the sides to form a slight ridge.
Beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth.
Lightly whip the double cream, and then fold it into the cream cheese mixture.
Spoon the cheesecake filling on top of the biscuit base and smooth with a spatula. Put it in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to serve the cheesecake, unmould it and spread the raspberry and basil mix on top.
Serve with a dusting of chocolate.