For sometime in the recent past my mother has had the misfortune of her pristine kitchen being invaded by a pirate. No prizes for guessing that the culprit in question in yours truly. To satisfy my ravenous itch in the culinary arts, I have been making occasional tours to my mother’s kingdom. My experiments, no thanks to the very generous Mr.Sanjeev Kapoor on the tube, are a far cry from the simple fare that mum cooks up. needless to say, that with time and unlimited patience on my parents’ part I succeeded in acquiring the reputation of a “decent cook”. unfortunately that posed another problem. everytime something special had to be cooked, I put my hand up first. as a result soon me and mum were jostling for time and space in the kitchen. finally after much conflict the matter was settled by the “independent authority”…dad. from now on mum gets sole control of the daily fare but when it comes to Sunday specials etc. both of us get equal opportunities and would get control alternatively. so far so good.
During all the time that I was trying my hands at cooking I could not help but observe a strange occurrence. everytime I placed a dish on the table, it always got attention…. good, bad, ugly, sour,salty, hot, oily, spicy etc. the feedback helped me immensely to judge my efforts and rectify necessary errors. It was not the case with mum. whatever she cooked was eaten with the monotony characteristic of a daily ritual. only in exceptional cases was a comment passed. I would have to confess that I was also equally party to this. Yet somehow this indifference did not seem to offend mum.
Earlier, when I had just started showing my inclination towards cooking, mum often told me not to be over-enthusiastic and to take it in measured doses. she said that later I would have to spend a lifetime in the kitchen and there would be no escape.
I realised this soon enough after comparing the reactions to me and mum at the dining table. when a job or duty is characteristically assigned to a person, the outcome of it is accepted under normal circumstances without a blink. in this case my mum prepared the daily meals as part of her duty towards her household. just as the way my dad goes out to work. this lack of attention might seem offensive but on the other hand it also establishes the unquestionable authority of the person in that arena. whatever she placed on the table was accepted and eaten with satisfaction.
mum perhaps tried to forewarn and prepare me for the rigours of the kitchen. in future my hobby would soon turn to a monotonous drill that would more often than not go unnoticed. perhaps it would, yet this drill might also give me the pleasure of knowing that I satisfy one of my family’s most important needs.