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Last evening my five year old daughter wanted to roll chapatis for dinner. I decided to give in to her fancies and must say she did a decent job! This brought in a flood of memories from my own childhood. Being a daughter was never easy back then. Or if I may re phrase this...having a daughter was never easy back then. And having two was like...well!!!
So, we were two sisters with a considerable age difference of eight mighty years. I have never tried to understand the challenges my parents may have faced because we were both pampered to the extent that it became a source of serious worry for all who were closely or remotely related to us. But that's besides the point here. For I'm more interested in talking about rolling chapatis.
Until a week before I was to get married, I was working. And my parents were so keen to let me relax all my growing years that they forgot to show me the way to the kitchen. I wasn't much interested anyway. But this was a crucial time. As every Indian girl who is to get married I was surely expected to know some decent cooking. And here I was...with nothing but a lame diary in hand. I spent the few days before my marriage, not trying, but penning down some basic recipes. I was to live alone with my husband and so the problem seemed colossal.
During one of our long conversations in the courtship period I had hesitatingly brought up the topic. The retort almost took me by surprise.
"Well, there's no worry on that one. I can cook almost everything."
Now that was quite a consolation. Hence, I just reclined a little more and simply stuck to a cooking journal...never deeming it necessary to take practical lessons.
The initial month after the wedding was quite comfortable with my in laws and I was hardly asked to be in the kitchen. I stuck to salad dressing and slicing some fruits. Thereafter it was time to move into a small nest of our own. Initially as we set up the house, packed food kept coming in. And then the D-day arrived. With husband dear off to work promising to be home for a sumptuous meal, I was left wondering whether he had forgotten our conversation back then. Anyway, food had to be cooked and my darling journal came to my rescue. I must admit that I spent the most difficult three hours of my life in the kitchen then. The end result was nothing that would make me feel proud but that was it. The statutory warning had been given well in advance.
He fell back for lunch just in time. I had managed a few minutes to look my best. As we headed for the table I uncovered a bowl of modest lentils, mashed cauliflower and crackling chapatis. I finally took the initiative to speak up.
"It must be hard for a seasoned cook to have this. Its not even palatable." My husband in turn had the most wonderful things to say about the meal. I told him how I had been relying on his cooking skills as he had mentioned before. The revelation he made was the most amazing thing I had heard in many days. He told me that he had no idea about what goes in and out of cooking. He only knew that it was a difficult thing to master in a days time and appreciated all that I had done. I was upset that he had told me otherwise before we got married.
"When I realized that you were all worked up about cooking after marriage I just knew I didn't want you to spend harrowing days in the kitchen when you should have been relaxing and enjoying yourself. These are little things in life and they do come about with time. I never thought it was so difficult that it couldn't have been handled."
What followed were days of serious experimentation. We were both students and research scholars in the kitchen laboratory. And twelve years from then, I guess we have both managed to get credits but I accept with humility that my husband is a distinction holder in the kitchen. He is the Kitchen King!
As for myself, I'm happy being second in this line of events. I love being pampered with some interesting delicacies. Well, some people do have all the luck!