I do not particularly like Sundays. They are too close to Monday’s. Much like the last day of a wonderful holiday, it is a day that’s filled with conflicting feelings – happiness because it is still a day of freedom from daily chores; anxiety because it is filled with the awareness that the imminent return to the daily scuffle of working life only a few precious hours away. So no one wants to do anything exciting, everyone just wants to conserve precious energy and as a result it is a subdued lazy day.
As a child I could never understand why grown-ups did not see Sundays as I-just-wanna-have-fun-days. Perhaps it is because we all had to start the day with church. Now, I do not know what they are up to these days, but back then church was no fun.
It was a solemn affair to which men wore starched suits of cut from dark cloth and women wore silly hats that carried badly executed attempts at Victorian still lives with fruits and flowers and all. Everyone wore uncomfortable shoes and took special care of their hair and body odor. As a result, I spent many Sunday mornings with a mop of wet hair feeling daffy from the fumes of chemical hairspray and cheap perfume.
And as if that was not enough, a man sweating profusely – no doubt caused by wearing a heavy black toga in sweltering heat – threatened us with an eternal life of hell fire and brimstone if we did not change our sinful ways. We were made to sing very slow songs in which we made promises I knew we’d not be able to keep.
But nothing equaled the suspense and drama that was called prayer. We’d be summoned to stand with feet together, close our eyes and fold our hands. Then the man with the toga would beg for the attention of the Lord up above, and only once he was sure the Lord was listening, he would start – normally by listing our collective sins. Slowly and deliberately. One-by-shameful-one.
Many were the Sundays on which he prayed me into a state of dizzy delirium. To this day, I cannot stand with my feet together and my eyes closed for more than a minute without seeing spots and wanting to faint. It was hell, but according to man in front, worse was still to come.
By the time the man executed our blessings I was as depressed and stressed out as Job himself. For the life of me, I could not understand why we had to repeat the same ordeal every Sunday. Yet, under duress and with substantial threat this consumed almost two decades of my life.
The clouds of doom and gloom only lifted when we got home and I could smell our Sunday lunch. Thick, whole cuts of meat roasted – legs or shoulders of lamb particularly – were cooked in a slow oven. There would be potatoes and maybe some other root vegetables added to the roasting pan. Pan juices would be thickened for gravy, and more often than not, rice would make its way to the table. Invariably the meal was concluded with a baked pudding and custard, or if Dad had his way, jelly and custard.
These days, our Sunday lunches are a much lighter, more relaxed affair and although we are still summoned with the same sternness by Mom to do the dishes straight afterward, I have learned to enjoy it. Mondays can wait until after the Sunday night movie.
Here is a recipe for a special, colourful roast to keep the Sunday blues at bay.