Kamala started serving lime pickle out of an old Horlicks bottle during lunch time. Her sister Vimala and family had come for a few days' stay on a holiday, nay vacation as they had come from USA. Vimala asked "Where did you get these bottles.? It looks like Amma's bottles. How did you get it? "
She was correct. Mother was so fond of Horlicks right from her young days not only for the taste of the sweet malt drink but for the cute useful bottles too. She had kept a collection of bottles even from the pre independence era. And she was proud of it too. Unluckily the English vocabulary didn't have a word like philatelist, numismatist or philluminist for a bottle collector.
Her daughters Kamala and Vimala were neither fond of the drink nor of the bottle during their younger days when they were students. They treated Horlicks as an oldies' drink. Tea and coffee were considered as the young beverages.
But their mother remained a Horlicks fan. Since the family had to move from town to town on transfer, the number of bottles depleted with every shifting. Therefore she became very kind hearted towards the end of her husband's postings in any particular place once in every three/four years. She gave away a few bottles to her neighbours as a parting gift. This was appreciated by Kamala, Vimala and their father because it reduced their hard work of packing the bottles with corrugated paper and cellotapes while on transfer.
Kamala and Vimala grew up, married and got settled with their families. Vimala was the first to do so. She went to USA. Their father retired and the couple settled in their own house in their native village. Needless to say, the Horlicks bottles, though now very few in number, adorned the kitchen cabinet.
With every visit of Vimala from America, the composition of their kitchen cabinet changed. She brought beautiful pet bottles which slowly replaced the glass bottles. Because of the convenience of handling and fear of breaking, the lady of the house also shifted her love towards the new innovation. Slowly " pets" replaced the former pets of the kitchen.......
‘It seems to be very old. How did you get it?’ Vimala asked again. ‘Actually Amma had stopped buying Horlicks bottles since I brought the whole set of Pet bottles from Walmart ...." she continued.
Kamala said, ‘It's true. A few years after Amma passed away, Mohan uncle called me to say that there was a locked trunk in the attic of his house with Amma's name on it. He found it when the tiles of the roof were replaced by Aluminium sheet. I went there and broke the lock of the trunk box to find a couple of brass lamps and four big Horlicks bottles with rusted metal caps. The lamps are kept in the living room after buffing and polishing. I could fetch good stainless steel caps for the bottles. Apparently they were given by our grandmother to Amma......"
There was a reason behind their affinity for the glass bottles. World over, especially in USA it has been proclaimed that plastic in any form is bad for health. After a series of investigations, the " clergy " of scientists have beatified the good old glass and ceramic vessels as the holier than the plastics and pets.
‘If you wish, you may take two out of the four..’ Kamala said. Vimala readily agreed.
After the vacation, Vimala made it a point to pack the bottles, neatly wrapped with bubble paper and rolled in soft saris before placing them in the middle of their registered baggage. She took one of the brass lamps also to America for her living room...
The night Vimala and family were seen off to USA, Kamala's husband had a doubt to clarify... ‘You got five Horlicks bottles from the old trunk, didn't you?’
‘Yes, you are right. Had I disclosed the correct number, how would Vimala have been happy with two bottles.....?’
Here ends the story of Horlicks bottles.