It’s my birthday in the month of February, and every year, three generations of extended family members get together for an evening of strained revelry. This year too, my mother, in a bid to better the celebrations of last year, and the last birthday in the circle, decided to make fish cutlets, among other preparations.
She trudged off to the fish market early that Sunday morning, bought the largest Rohu available, and put that fellow to poach after forty straight minutes of cleaning, descaling and scrubbing. Post the poaching, mashing and shaping the meat into small fat discs by dad, it was my turn to dunk them in beaten egg and cake them with a layer of breadcrumbs, then pat to dry. Having barely been of any use while cooking, this took me past midnight to complete.
The next day, my birthday, I landed home late and mum had already proceeded with the high tea. No sooner did I enter, relatives hugged me with birthday greetings that were interspersed with congratulations. I was confused. Mildly. My relatives were apparently over the moon for I had prepared those cutlets with such dedication and precision. My granny was gushing with happiness, happy that I had finally attained marriageable status. My parents were quiet, throwing off my angry glares with a shrug. They just grinned their toothy grins.
I tried to be modest, without being downright rude, but my relatives assured me that within no time I would be able to cook just like my cousins, if not better. For years on end I’ve been ‘poked’ at as the odd one out in my group of female cousins, the only one not being able to cook or have a strain of maternal care.
This is not about me crying from the rooftops about feminism and the dearth of freedom in my life. But I could do with a breather from the need for society, especially relatives, to refrain from setting standards according to their fixed notions and definitely ‘polluting’ my parent’s minds, and from granny checking off her list for ‘necessary skills required by a young woman of marriageable age’.
Cooking is generally seen as a therapeutic activity by many. Not to me. I’ve lived on my own, I’ve cooked ample items, from ravioli to Gajar ka halwa, and yes, I can survive on my own cooking. But it’s always been on my own terms, and when the need to survive rings in loud and clear. Someday, I too shall whip up a grand feast as effortlessly as Jamie Oliver, till then, I’ll stick to tasting and practicing.
This post is part of the seventh annual A to Z Challenge that takes place in the month of April. My theme for this month is ‘Every Day Musings’. It’s my first attempt at this challenge. Feedback is most welcome, constructive criticism, even more. Share your experiences and let’s enjoy this month of fabulous blogging. If you want to know more about this challenge, click here.