August 14, 2005

The day we made Soap

It was a long time ago. We were about 12 yrs old. Learning about how soaps were made. Along with a little bit of Shakespeare, amongst other things. We decided to make soap, on our own. “Out of Natural stuff” said Pratiti. “Of course!” replied Sapna.

They are my best friends. Four of us, till we were about 15, then Anu joined us. And we have been best friends always. Long standing friends, we will always be. Janani’s house was chosen as the ‘factory’, so to speak. For making the soap. Jolly jelly janani, we have always called her. Mainly cause she had jelly knees and would fall down at the drop of a hat. I say this, despite being one of the clumsiest people I know.

Janani’s house was chosen as the spot cause it had a beautiful garden, and loads of space in the backyard. The garden became our evening hang out. We would pick leaves from the garden, from whichever plant was proclaimed good. We needed a fireplace. Obviously the soap would have to be distilled! So we set about making a fireplace, large enough to hold a pot of our ‘soap’ solution. The fireplace somehow looked like the Indian commode by the time we were done ‘building’ it.

Our soap solution, was quite green - brown in colour. It had an assortment of leaves in it, which to our credit, we had crushed and boiled. Burning the solution, however, attracted attention. Lakshmi, a girl who played in the park nearby, and who happened to be our classmate, came to see what it was. We didn’t want any intruders claiming credit for any glory that was reserved for us. Janani drove her away, with a characteristic story about us boiling roaches and eating them. She loved scaring away people with stories like that. How people actually believed her, I know not, for she is a staunch vegetarian. Well, if there is one thing we have learned, it is that people can be gullible.

Anyway, between driving away inquisitive people and boiling the soap stuff, a month passed. But the solution refused to solidify. We had thought of suitable bakras who would try out our soap for us, but we didn’t think they would fall for a green liquid. We thought a little time would help solidify the stuff. But we needed a place where it would remain undisturbed. Janani came up with a brain wave.

“The servants’ quarters is unused, we can use that!”

It seemed a perfect idea. We walked stealthily to that section of her house, placed the bowl out of sight, and walked back with self-satisfied smiles on our faces. And promptly forgot about it.

That is, till about two months later, when my mom greeted me with ‘What the hell were you girls thinking?!’ The cat was out of the bag. Janani’s mom was just checking up on the servants quarters, when she thought she smelled something dreadful. Well, you know what it was!

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