A broken milk frother, and the sacredness of everyday things

Isn’t it funny the items which develop sentimental value?

It’s not always the family heirlooms, or the priceless Ming vase. Sometimes it’s the well-worn hoody. The dog-eared copy of a treasured book. Or, in my case, an old milk frother.

It was a gift from my late mother-in-law. Her name was Bhavna. She gifted it to my husband and I at least a year before she passed away, as part of a selection of her own kitchen items, to help us set up the first flat we rented together. She loved a cup of proper coffee topped with hot frothed milk, and the frother was her ‘spare’ one!

At some point recently, the milk frother found its way into the sink, and water has rusted the electric elements. I don’t think there’s any saving it.

Bhavna gifted me some priceless and precious things. She gifted her own mother’s engagement ring to my husband to propose to me with. She bought the gold mangalsutra necklace which is the symbol of marriage for Indian brides. These are some of the most precious items I possess.

But the things I treasure most are simple things. The milk frother. A pretty green wax candle holder that she bought me on holiday once. A small white bowl with a gold rim and decorative fruit around the outside, which wasn’t expensive or precious, but belonged to her own mother.

I think what makes these things special to me is they speak not just to who she was, but to our relationship. The friendship that was just ours. The little moments which were my favourite times with her.

‘Things’ can hold a special magic, but as I bid farewell to my poor milk frother, I am making a new commitment to myself. Instead of remembering Bhavna in the presence of the ‘thing’, I will remember her in the doing of the action.

Instead of remembering her when I use the milk frother, I will do so when I take that first sip of coffee. I will remember quiet mornings in her kitchen, when we were the first ones awake. I will remember standing at the patio doors, idly chatting and watching the birds in the garden. I will remember putting the kettle on and getting out two mugs without having to ask if she wanted a coffee. I will do this in remembrance of her, and feel close to her once more.

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