My childhood obsession with chocolate started with Munch chocolate bars.
Violently tearing open the striking purple wrapper, gently biting into the fragile, flaky chocolate shell, dropping crumbs over my grandparent’s carpeted floors — all the great joys of a peaceful childhood. Soon, my love for Cadbury — a brand that felt stiflingly local — was supplanted by a pretentious adolescent desire for “worldliness”. I grew to appreciate Lindt and Lindor, Godiva and Ferrero Rocher, often at the exclusion of my once beloved Dairy Milks and Kit Kats.
I would eagerly await dad’s return from every work trip, accosting him as soon as he returned, throwing his handbag on my bed and begging him to open the chocolates he had dutifully collected for me. Later, I began to venture into the capricious, murky waters of dark chocolate before I finally settled on alcoholic desserts — chocolate and rum balls, black forest cake.
My changing tastes in chocolate were a triviality. I forgot about them as I grew out of my sweet tooth. However, my grandparents — Aji and Ajoba — did not. And even today, every time I leave their house, I open the top drawer of their fridge — as is custom — and pick up one Munch chocolate bar and one rum ball before the ride home.
I grew up immersed in my grandparent’s boundless love, a love that was often communicated to me gustatorily through food.
My best days of middle school were the ones when I’d come home from school to the smell of a mutton pattice or a mava cake that Ajoba had picked up for me from our favorite Iranian bakery. He conveyed his love to me not simply with hugs and aphorisms, but also with fresh pomfret from a local market and freshly caught comments from our fisherwoman about how coastal food ran through my veins.
My favorite memories with my grandparents may very well be the meals I shared with them: prawn curry at their dinner table and chicken sandwiches from RTO. Their food was my conduit to a culture that could otherwise feel inaccessible, to the flavors of home.
And yet, it took me leaving for the United States and returning home for the first time this summer to notice both how much I missed their food and this permanent reminder of their unconditional love. It was only now that I noticed the hours spent cooking, driving and toiling over a kitchen stove to prepare the beloved puran polis I ate so thoughtlessly.
I have been incredibly blessed to be surrounded by people — my grandparents and my parents — whose waking moments are, more often than not, occupied by the things that make me happy, whether it be the clothes they buy for me or my latest chocolate obsession.
While food may not be a ubiquitous love language, I am confident that many students here have been lucky enough to speak the language of unconditional love with someone from home; kind notes from a high school teacher scribbled along the margins of every essay reminding you of your talent, yearly trips with your parents, notes from your best friend that you carry to college.
If unconditional love is the foundation of an amorphous notion of family, this is what we honor on family weekend. These are the giants whose shoulders we stood on to see the tolling bells of Harkness, the green of Cross Campus.
It often takes going away from home, school and friends — removing yourself from an atmosphere saturated with love — to realize how much harder it is to breathe without it. Family weekend is then a reminder to reach out to these loved ones, to remind them of your gratitude for all they have done and comfort them with the notion that separation can be difficult for you too.
More importantly, a realization like this speaks to the dangers of unconditional love that is exploited, neglected and left to fester and die. If you are the immutable center of somebody’s universe, their love for you is a weapon if wielded incorrectly. It gives you the power to wound with thoughtlessness, to irrevocably hurt those with the mere notion that you have forgotten them. And while the thought of hurting a loved one might sicken me to my core, it is easier done than said — pushing off a phone call indefinitely because midterm season is coming.
I hope, then, that family weekend has been the perfect reminder of how we feel, or how we see our friends change, when surrounded by the people who make us the best versions of ourselves. I hope too, that it can be a reminder to express our gratitude to the people on whose wings we flew to Yale.
PRADZ SAPRE is a sophomore in Benjamin Franklin college. His column, titled ‘Growing pains’, runs every other Monday. Contact him at email@example.com.