Says the second yr undergraduate Commerce student, who helps her mom Ammini TU at their roadside thattukada (meals stall) in Wadakkanchery, close to Thrissur in Kerala, “I didn’t think so much about it. There was a need that I do this to help my mother, so I am [doing it].”
Recently, a video of hers making parottas went viral after being shared on social media. Merinda recollects Hanan Hamid, the Kochi student who was subjected to cyber bullying after a video of her promoting fish in her college uniform went viral, and says, “She was the darling of the people one day, and then brickbats followed. You know how all this attention…it can backfire just as quickly.”
Merinda, the youngest of Ammini’s three kids, begins work at the thattukada at 2 pm after ending her on-line lessons in the morning. She makes parottas until 10 pm. The household is in debt; Ammini’s husband deserted the household when Merinda was only a Class IV student. The meagre earnings from the thattukada is barely sufficient to make ends meet and to pay for Merinda’s college tuition. “We will figure a way out,” says the quick-witted Merinda.
Her entering into making parottas was Ammini’s concept, who, after deciding she had to develop the menu to entice extra prospects (Ammini had been promoting fried snacks like vada and pazham pori for 3 years at that time), employed a male professional to make parottas to serve with hen or beef curry. Since he couldn’t make parottas as he had to work elsewhere, Ammini puzzled if Merinda, who had simply graduated from highschool then, may help. “It took me four months till I finally got the knack of it. Seeing my interest, he taught me how to move my hands, how to get the dough’s consistency right… everything.”
Today, she makes parottas out of eight kilograms of maida dough. “I get 16 parottas per kilogram of maida and I make around 130 parottas a day. Now with all the attention, we are getting more people. In the last few days, I made parottas out of 10-11 kilograms of dough,” says Merinda.
The secret to a flaky parotta is the closing crumpling that occurs, she provides. Since she has been making parottas for some time she finds it straightforward now, “the heat (from the tawa) and I are old friends!” she jokes. Her dialog is peppered with humour – self-deprecating – and generally the jokes are aimed toward her mom. “I get it [sense of humour] from my mother. She is a fighter,” Merinda says.
She has no regrets for not having the time to do issues what children her age do. “If there is something I want to do badly or there is more work I don’t go to college that day,” she says. Once she completes her commencement she plans to seem for the Kerala Public Service Commission exams or attempt for a banker’s job. “All that will happen if I manage to complete my graduation with decent marks. Let’s see,” she indicators off, nonetheless laughing.