Jannat Mein Jharu (Sweep Heaven Clean)

Mariya and her Mummy and Amma
May 9, 2019

My niece Mariya, who’s visiting from Calcutta, was making kheer as she was telling me this story. “When we were younger, Mummy and Amma (grandmother) would tell me and my sisters, “Consider this plate of food like heaven; you can’t leave heaven dirty, so you have to eat every morsel.”

Jannat ko jharu daina hai,” they would say. You have to sweep heaven clean.

“It was a way for them to teach us about not wasting food, that so many people are hungry and that we have no right to waste,” Mariya says.

The wisdom, learned at such a young age, still holds true, as I noticed during her visit. Mariya finishes what’s on her plate, even if she’s stuffed; two-day old roast chicken gets revived into chicken cutlets; and over-baked cookies become a bus ride snack. “I even have to catch myself on a plane from telling people, ‘no, no, don’t open your meal if you’re not going to eat it, or keep that yogurt container for later!,’” she laughs.

Cooking and hospitality prevail in our family. Mariya’s Amma (my phoppi) was an incredible cook. So good, that when a girl’s family was entertaining a proposal from a boy’s family, they would come to Amma and ask her to make her famous murgh musallam, with the two boiled eggs stuffed deep inside. She’d make it each time with such love that the boy’s family would be so impressed, guessing that the girl in question had made it. “At least six or seven marriages have resulted from my Amma’s cooking,” Mariya laughs.

Even when Amma was bedridden and suffering from dementia, if a visitor came to see her, her first question to her family would be “Kuch Khilaya?” – have you served anything?  No one could leave Amma’s house unfed.

Day 5 Wisdom 5: This plate of food is like heaven, you have to sweep it clean.

Friends, a request from Mariya. It has been 18 years since Mariya’s mother disappeared. Mariya was 13 years old when she, her sisters, and mother were covering school books with paper; they were three books short. Mariya’s mom left to get some more paper, in her slippers just taking a few rupees, not even her wallet. She never returned. There was a two-year intensive search for her at the time, with no leads; Mariya has revived the search and asks if we can share this tweet on social media in case anyone has any information. Thank you. https://twitter.com/MariyaS87/status/1122284736775254016?s=19


Sartaj Majid (Amma)

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