I like the fact that a simple diminutive garland of one lemon and a few chillies, aka Nimbu Mirchi, can be found hanging outside Indian doors and on vehicles. I like how these garlands are used as charms or totka to ward of negativity or evil eye.

I also like how some believe that Nimbu Mirchi relates to the mythology of Alakshmi, the Goddess of lack and poverty and her sister Lakshmi, the Goddess of luck and prosperity. I like the belief that the sour lemons and hot chillies would satiate Alakshmi’s tastes at the threshold causing her to take her patronage elsewhere, while the sweets within would entice her more welcomed sister Lakshmi to favour the premises.

I like how my Mother tells me of the pest repelling properties of Nimbu Mirchi. I like how my Father attributes it to travellers of yore who packed lemons to combat dehydration and chillies to quickly diagnose paralysis brought on by a poisonous bite or sting.

I like these variations on a theme. I like their distinctions and similarities. I like how some arguments fit in with existing knowledge and how some challenge it.

I like probing and figuring things out. I like deep-diving into the old and noting the new. I like knowing the facts and appreciating the fiction.

I like the questions and I equally like the answers.

These essays, poems and short-stories chronicle my search for Life’s essence. I hope you like them.