Also Published on Huffington Post India
Of course there do exist men who love to cook for themselves and their family, but they are more an exception than the norm. I am lucky to be married to the exception. When I tell my friends he’s a fabulous cook and I get to have breakfast in bed on weekends, I get the ‘you must be kidding’ look from them. Interestingly, you’ll hardly hear any man say, he’s lucky to have a mom/sis/wife who cooks. It’s because cooking is still considered a woman’s job. In the age of equality where a woman is as busy as her partner, she may not have to see the inside of her kitchen too often thanks to her cook. But keeping the house clean and the family well-fed even if she’s fed up of it, is still her responsibility. Little wonder it’s the woman and not the man who gets into ‘deep depression’ if her hired helps ditches her for greener pastures.
Behind every successful woman is her hardworking bai.
Frankly I don’t blame men who can’t differentiate cumin powder from coriander and don’t know where the spoons are kept in the kitchen. I blame the women in their lives who insist on treating them like babies incapable of taking care of themselves. Why else would a wife who leaves for a month long vacation at her parents slog for weeks to cook and freeze meals for her dear husband? Why else would a man who’s on a work tour, buy new shirts instead of bothering to wash the used ones? Because all these years he’s gotten away with it!
Women have a perfectly logical excuse for this ineptness. His presence in the kitchen is more a headache than a help. If he cooks, he leaves the kitchen in a mess! A lot of women’s idea of bagging the ‘best wife of the millennium’ trophy is to make their husbands ‘the most inept man’ of the century. And they apply the same logic to their own kids as well. If I make my Twinkle cook a meal, I’ll become a terrible Mom.
Then there are men who are loath to take up cooking. Worse, they are rather proud of it. Far from being grateful for the piping hot meals he gets served on the dining table, he thinks of housework as inferior. And if his friends beg to differ, he’ll promptly call them henpecked.
I also know of instances where the man wants to learn cooking but his mom won’t let him with the standard response “I’m not dead yet”. Well, you will be, when you are bedridden, surrounded by family members who can only boil water for tea. What happens when your dearest son moves out of the house? Have you taught him enough to survive on his own?
Do women think if they stop over-feeding their families, they will be loved less? Is it the desire to remain indispensable to the ones we love that clouds our judgment? It’s perfectly okay to love cooking and to prepare special meals for the ones your love. All my happy childhood memories are centred around the yummy mishtees Maa used to make on festivals. But till I was in college, I couldn’t cook to save my life. Frankly, as a working woman my mom was too busy to teach me cooking. It was my aunt’s comment that sent me scurrying to the kitchen armed with recipe books. She was baffled that a college going girl had to wait for her mum to get back home and prepare lunch. It was thanks to my aunt’s taunt, I developed a love for cooking. And I will be always be thankful to her.
I made sure I didn’t repeat the same mistake with my daughter. She started fixing snacks for herself when she was still in school. In fact, she’d be so excited about her experiments in the kitchen, she’d wake me up from my afternoon nap to show me pictures of her masterpieces. Before she left for college, she was expected to cook a meal a week for all of us. Yes, initially I was worried she might cut herself or worse burn the house down. But if I came home late from work or had to leave the house for an unexpected emergency, I was safe in the knowledge she’d be able to take care of herself.
So, let’s get this clear. Cooking is NOT a woman’s job. It’s a life skill that everyone must possess. If you can’t cook, you don’t brag about it. Instead, you ought to make an attempt to acquire some basic cooking skills. When you’re finally confident of not slicing off your finger as you chop onions and veggies, you surprise her with a meal. Just one tip, don’t leave the kitchen looking like a hurricane passed through it. If you do, prepare your eardrums for her a high decibel dressing down from her. The good news is, you can always order a pair of hearing aids on Amazon. They always have a ‘flat-50%-off’ sale going on.