Every evening Maa fills the small earthen urn with dried coconut husk and lights it to create enough smoke. She then adds dhuna to it and takes it on a round all over the house to drive out the mosquitoes. The temple-like ambiance created by dhuna was like a sign to us kids to go sit at our study table and prepare for the next day. Often the timing of dhuna would coincide with the regular load shedding by the state electricity board and I would be thrilled not to have to go sit at my table using the absence of light as an excuse to prolong my leisure.
On a day like today, I would probably be sitting next to mom as she prepared the duna for the evening, catching up with the latest gossip and adding my two cents, speculating what Tulsi or some other character would be doing in the next episode of “Kyunki…” or whatever her favorite was at the moment. Then the conversation would turn to dinner and what to cook that night. If both of us were in the mood, we might even go over to Mrs. Das’s, the chatty lady who albeit served a very good cup of tea. On warm lazy summer afternoons like these, I long to sit on the veranda with Maa.