Bright red, juicy and round. However you describe them, tomatoes are always going to be the most hated fruit for me. I have had a strong aversion towards this ‘nutritious’ fruit for as long as I can remember. I don’t know what exactly triggered such a strong emotion in me; but it is definitely something for which I remember feeling very strongly from an early age.
As a seven-year old kid, I used to carefully place all the tomato bits at the corner of my plate. The sight of them would repulse me to no extent. I would make faces, moan uncontrollably and even slam my fists down on the dining table. Raw or cooked, it didn’t matter. I hated tomatoes in every form.
My mother, as usual, tried her level best to make me like this immensely miserable fruit. But, being stubborn by nature made it easier for me to avoid it and pretty tough for her to even make me eat it. Very boldly, I would shove the tiny well-cooked bits of tomato at the side of the plate and continue to relish the rest of the dish. This practice went on for months. It became a routine for me. But just when I thought I had finally conquered those cruel tomatoes, I faced my mother’s wrath.
I remember that particular incident very vividly. It was a fine sunny afternoon. As always, my mother and I were having lunch on the dining table. That day, she had prepared ‘dal’ which was seasoned with tomatoes. Due to my old habit, I, very effortlessly, finished the entire ‘dal’, leaving only the tomato bits behind. My mother immediately lost her cool on noticing this. She got up and slapped me really hard. For a moment, I didn’t know what had happened. It was so sudden and quick. Though nothing came out of my mouth, hot tears did roll down my cheeks inadvertently. Then, my mother shoved up all the tomato pieces in my mouth. I felt helpless as I had no other option but to swallow the offending fruit.
After that incident, I was no longer allowed to waste tomatoes like that. There were times when I couldn’t even get up from the dining table before I had finished eating all the tomato pieces on my plate. ‘Oh, what a torture it used to be!’ This, invariably, led to an increase in my aversion towards tomatoes. But because I was petrified of my mother, I could do nothing but fake the pleasure of eating them.
Even after fifteen years, the sight of tomatoes makes me squirm. I, involuntarily, crinkle my nose on smelling tomato sauce. For the same reason, I don’t even eat spaghetti in red sauce. Undoubtedly, ‘Ik Junoon’ featuring the ‘Tomatina Festival’ from the movie, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, disgusts me. It seems like my war with tomatoes is never going to come to an end.