It is always sad to bid adieu to a good friend. Even sadder to watch that friend wither away to a long drawn out but inevitable end. When that friend has been a companion for almost half your life it is particularly agonizing. This homage is to such a companion of my life – My electric kettle.
I was a bright eyed young boy of 17, all excited about a new type of life away from parents in my engineering college hostel, when I felt that a morning cup of coffee would be a welcome accompaniment when I wake up early to study. Since it is unlikely that canteen would be open so early in the morning I decided to buy a water heater. First I bought a heating rod, one of those coiled contraptions you put inside water to heat it up. After a few rude introductions into the nature of electricity I decided I needed something safer. All the kettles I saw had exposed coils at the bottom and since heating elements had joined snakes among the pantheon of coiled things I fear, I kept looking for a safer option.
That’s when I saw it. It was a loner, like me. The only electric kettle in the place with a concealed heating element. Not as voluminous as its peers I felt drawn to the 750 ml kettle. Even I was not as voluminous then.
Thus began long years of association. Through it I mastered the art of brewing coffee. Multiple experiments with a variety of spices eventually led to “Gokul’s Medicinal Coffee (patents pending)”. From a hangover cure to a hangover inducer, a panacea for all type of ailments, the elixir that scares every illness out of Aadi at the very thought of drinking it. My kettle was also my first kitchen. Experimenting with Maggi and going on to prepare rice gruel the kettle was a lifesaver. In my pre-Betsol years month ends usually saw me too impoverished for even Porottas and gravy, the succor to the financially challenged Malayali. The induction stove and utensils were out of bounds for proprietary reasons. So I used the electric kettle to make Podiyari Kanji, broken rice gruel.
Moving to #749, my home in BTM, the kettle found itself relegated to a corner as pride of place was taken by an induction stove.
Years went by, seasons came and went, the silver induction stove turned brown, then black, then yellow, got replaced and turned to black again. I got married, moved to a new home and now the induction stove found itself relegated. We now had a full kitchen with gas stove and Microwave oven, which became the darling in Aadi’s eyes.
Being an old fashioned traditionalist I considered heating water for coffee in a microwave a travesty and I have always been a bit scared of boiling water on gas stove. So I decided to bring back my old friend. Years of neglect had left some hard residue but nothing a good scrubbing couldn’t fix.
And thus the dozen years old electric kettle came back to life. I have often heard that wives don’t approve of old husbands of their husbands trying to relive their glory days. While Aadi had no issues with the human counterparts her pretty nose flared at this resurrection. But I was not to be dithered. The kettle fueled my obsession with coffee once again. Aadi watched on helplessly as batches upon batches of various blends of coffee were brewed. But then she pointed out flecks of metal coming out of the kettle.
Initially I ignored it but then reason shone through my denials. My electric kettle is dying. It has been with me for 15 of my 32 years of life. It has been with me through my ups and downs. It had sustained me during the darkest periods of my life. But I can no longer be blind towards the inevitable.
Even today morning I drank coffee brewed from water boiled in my kettle. I am sure tomorrow too I shall do the same. But I am also sure that in the very near future I would have to pull the plug, literally and figuratively. I will not throw it out. Like Lenin, Stalin and Mao it shall forever remain mummified in memory of times glorious past. Unlike Lenin, Stalin or Mao it may not have caused the tumultuous times but it is still a symbol of those times, a memory enshrined.