“I knew the concoction that I was trying to cook, was far from yummy, as I was just trying to make do with an apologetic array of vegetables available in the swanky kitchen. Half an onion, three–fourths of a capsicum, and a couple of potatoes.”
Santosh Bakaya muses over the challenges mothers face to serve up something yummy, something different for their demanding kids.
My daughter had just shifted to Delhi for higher studies, leaving behind a perennially panicky parent, always on the lookout to rush to Delhi at the first opportunity that came her way.
So, on one such opportunity I was again in Delhi, in her kitchen, rustling some sort of a concoction before heading back to Jaipur.
Yes, my young daughter, now all of 20 years of age, had rented a spiffy apartment in Lajpat Nagar area of Delhi, which had a smart, but so far ill-equipped kitchen. There was a luxuriant Ashoka tree fronting the kitchen window, and as it swayed and sloughed, memory chunks assaulted me, ricocheting against the walls of my brain.
“You scarred my childhood, mom. Whoever heard of a mom polishing off her daughter’s chocolates, cakes, pastries and ice-creams?”
“What are you cooking, mom?”
“Oh, I am cooking something different.”
A scrunching of the aristocratic nose.
A grotesque grimace and the stinging words, “Something different? Oh no!” The ten year Iha would shudder in mock horror.
“Wow, mummy, this looks yummy.” It was the twenty year old Iha chirping from behind me.
“Just cooking something different.” The words were out of my mouth, before I could stop them.
From the corner of my eye , I noticed her surreptitiously messaging her friend and roommate Aeshwarya, who was in the other room. “I am scared, Ash. Mom is cooking something different.”
I furtively looked at her, searching for that half–sarcastic smile, which was always there when I told her that I had cooked ‘something different’. But, the sarcastic smile had given way to subtlety. I knew the concoction that I was trying to cook, was far from yummy, as I was just trying to make do with an apologetic array of vegetables available in the swanky kitchen. Half an onion, three–fourths of a capsicum, and a couple of potatoes.
There was a time when she had crinkled her tiny nose at the tastiest of delicacies I had cooked, and now she found even the bizarre concoction yummy.
“Anything for a hungry tummy! Yummy, mummy.” She would pull me away from the gas stove and start dancing around the kitchen, tugging and pulling at my arms, making me hop, skip, jump and pirouette, when she realized her words had stung me.
After her admission to the post-graduate programme of Jamia Millia Islamia, the acclimatization process after many a hiccup, seemed to be finally over and the dust too appeared to have settled. Recalling those past incidents, I felt a lump in my throat.
I thought the dust had settled. But how come a couple of dust motes had found their way into my eyes? I rushed to the kitchen sink to wash them away.
“Mom, the cab has come. I will take your suitcase down.” She shouted, frantically ironing her clothes. Her class was at eleven and my bus at twelve.
“Yes, coming,” I remarked turning my eyes away.
But her eyes were fixed on my dust-mote-laden eyes.
“I have packed your tiffin-box and guess what I have kept as a sweet dish? A cake, and two bars of chocolates. I would have kept a brick of ice-cream too, but, you know…” She shrugged with an apologetic smile.
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