Kismi Toffee Bar.
This was never just another chocolate for me. Apart from being my favourite chocolate and the one that made me appreciate the goodness of elaichi and later on coconut, it defined my childhood in many ways.
The shiny red wrapping of the bar that was so easy to un-wrap (didn’t have to ask an adult to “open” it for me) was a gleeful sight in any provision store – one that I searched for in those tall glass jars with metal lids that the shop-keepers arranged right in front of the shop on those wooden closets or sometimes in those Cadburys purple rimmed glass boxes.
I don’t quite remember how I was introduced to the chocolate though I have a strong hunch that it was my parents or my thatha. The taste was addicitive. Strong. Sweet. Just the right texture and softness for someone who just had a happy mix of milk and emerging permanent teeth. Oh, I loved it. I loved looking at it. It did not have a grand packaging but there something about it that made me want to hold it in my hands forever. I loved eating it but felt awful once I was done when the empty wrapper gawked at me.
My mother loved and still loves the chocolate. We still discuss about the little chocolates that we ate as children which sadly are no longer commonplace as they once used to be. Ma keeps mentioning this everytime chocolate or elaichi becomes part of our conversation.
Why did I love it? Why did I want 6 of it as opposed to one bar of Crackle? It had nothing to do with the number. Yes, Kismi toffee bars were cheap, very cheap. That added a certain great value to it that can’t be described. As a child, you think it is easy to buy things that can be paid in coins as opposed to notes. It was probably that. Adults kind of relented to kids who ask for “cheaper” chocolates. It kind of fitted well in the scheme of reinforcement.
Or was it the shape? If you have noticed, kismi toffee bars were never symmetrical. They have a certain bulge in a certain some location and they end abruptly. So, you can imagine the joy of having to choose the one that fitted totally inside the wrap and was long and bulging and made the chocolate look full. I remember choosing the best of the lot. I did that with mangoes too. I still do. I love doing it. It is the child in me and I wouldn’t be ashamed of myself and brand myself selfish. I am too young for that.
And then there was the coconut green version as well. It was tasty but I still remember kismi for its red coloured wrapper.
Ma always reinforced me for little things. Going to school was fun because she’d buy me honey-cake on my way back. If I was extra good or scored a 10/10 on my A-B-C-D test, I’d get a Kismi Toffee Bar as well. She’d buy one for herself and that’s what made the whole scene so magical. My mother, ma,never ate much chocolates. She chose hers carefully and still does. She doesn’t need a Godiva or Hersheys but just a pack of those old coconut toffees, lemon hard boiled sweets and lately almond coated in milk chocolate. And so when she liked a chocolate, as a kid, I termed it as “one of the best”. Those walks back from school eating cake and toffee bars are some of the most beautiful journeys of my life. No walk on the beach or trek up a mountain can give me back the feeling that overtook me (and still feel) when I walked the little uphill, crossed the road, prayed in silence when I passed by the Ganesha temple, looked at the big lorries and wondered how they could see the road when they sat up so high and then secretly wish that I was given an off from homework for that day. These will probably be another post or maybe I will never get around to writing it. I don’t think I can.
Even thatha who always bought me something on every visit used to reserve kismi toffee bars for special occassions – like when he got his salary or I passed my LKG. He celebrated every little thing with me. He used to promise me a reward with that inimitable hand gesture of a magician and with twinkling eyes that made him the most lovable grandpa in the world. As he meticulously worked his way through the multi-layered bag where each layer hid soemthing, he’d keep the suspense on by stopping in between and looking at me with that twinkle again and then delve into the layers. The euphoria and the eagerness would make my eyes well up with tears and then , the shriek ! The kismi toffee bar would steal the show.
Papa loves sweets and so he naturally loved every chocolate. But I could detect a special mention, a certain warmth when he spoke of kismi toffee bars. I think it was the flavour. It never mattered. It kind of bonded us. We shared the taste and it fitted well that he was the earning member of the family and as a child, I knew what that meant – the buyer of chocolates and just about everything. The decider. He never disappointed me. He still loves chocolates but I miss going out with him and standing on my tip-toes to see eevrything inside that Cadburys box. I miss stretching out my hands, cupped to safely hold the kismi bars.
My little hero, my brother and I shared the most awesome summer holidays ever. We used to spend time doing the most wonderful, Enid Blyton-ish summer activities that it deserve another post. What we usually would do is to collect some money ( we never got any pocket money) by asking our parents to put the small change inside our telephone shaped piggy bank. We’d then collect this money before we left for my grandma’s place (to indulge in sheer fun) and buy a variety of toffees with it. And needless to say, kismi toffee bar would end up high on our list. We shared the pride as we trotted off to the shop-keeper and order chocolates left, right and centre. As I write this, I am filled with the sense of longing for those wonderful days – days of coffeebite, mangobites, ravalgon, paan parag and kismi toffee bars; days where Cadburys bars evoked a sense of awe and the rest, sheer happiness and personified each of us.
I sometimes hear about Kismi toffee bars still being on sale but I haven’t had the fortune of coming across one.
It was so much a part of my childhood that I just had to name my blog this way. As I continue to rant about little everythings on this blog, one thing is for sure – I will always return here with a smile.