You first set your eyes on her in your neighbour’s apartment. You couldn’t help but get seduced by the aromas wafting out of the kitchen. You knew you wanted her for yourself and wooed her like you had never wooed before, she finally succumbed. There had been many before her, but she held out a rare promise.....
You were patient and waited for her for months and the day she joined was one of the happiest days of your life. Silently you had borne the heat, the sweaty back, the exhaustion all in the fond hope of a brighter future. Finally, the smile was back on your face. The evenings were yours at last; you could now snuggle up with that book you had purchased from the book fair last year, listen to Farida Khanum croon in that throaty voice of hers; watch your long forgotten DVD collection. You now felt like a free bird ready to spread her wings.
Unfortunately the honeymoon period was short lived. She was not what you expected, the subzis were mostly overcooked, the dal lumpy and the chappatis cardboard stiff. Even though you did wonder about the absence of her much anticipated culinary expertise, you were careful not to hurt her feelings. You would try and tell her in the gentlest possible way that the spices always smelt raw, the gravy too runny. She made you think longingly about K, his cool efficiency, his melt in mouth paneer koftas. You had him for two years, life was so rosy then, each meal was a celebration. You had to leave him behind, in life you have to move on.
The family had by now started complaining about the bad food. You would shush them, glare at them and try to drown out the sounds of their discontent. What’s with them, it’s just a measly meal, you would often wonder. You didn’t want to let go of your new found freedom, no not so soon. She was your hard earned trophy; you had to make it work.
You tried, with patience and perseverance. But she was just not willing. Soon things were missing from the kitchen, tiny things that you would easily overlook. You felt hurt, she could have just asked? She had betrayed your trust, it was time to let her go even though it broke your heart.
You had now retreated in your shell. Busss, no more flirtations, I’ve had enough, from now on I’ll be my own master. It was tough in the beginning but the family rallied around you. They tried to ease the hurt - oh they tried hard, the sweet souls.
And then one day the bell rang - a new face, chubby with kind eyes. You were still not ready for a full time commitment. Fine, just make the chapattis and chop the veggies, I will do the rest. You were cold and distant from her. She didn’t push hard either, perhaps she understood. For months you continued like this, unwilling, unrelenting.
That day you were particularly tired, you’d had a rough day at work. S can you please do the cooking tonight, you managed to murmur. The sabzi was perfect, the dal smooth and the chapattis soft. You smiled a grateful smile at her.
You’ve been together for four years now and the relationship is growing from strength to strength. As you sit and type this post, cooking aromas waft out of the kitchen. She is preparing a new dish whose recipe you have just downloaded from the net. Your tummy grumbles it’s approval.
The other day she mumbled a shy - Didi, I will never leave your job. Tears welled up in your eyes. You see, she not just a cook, but your knight with her shining ladle.