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This is a true account of what happened on my first day in the kitchen after my wedding, when I accidentally almost set fire to it!
The kitchen was that elusive part of the home I seldom ventured into before I got married. My visits were limited to going there to drink water, grab a snack from the cupboard or sometimes to help mom serve food.
Not knowing cooking isn’t something to be proud of, but my parents had always encouraged me to focus on academics, and there never was much opportunity. Pre-medical entrance test preparation followed by 5 years of hostel life left no scope of learning how to cook. I was still pursuing my Masters when I got married.
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Back from the honeymoon, finally the day came for my ceremonial kitchen entering ceremony.
Like most households I was to prepare something sweet and in my case the sweet was ‘halwa’. It is a pretty simple recipe which I had already asked my mom and I was quite confident of passing with flying colors. As I merrily roasted the semolina my mum-in-law, well aware of my ‘culinary prowess’ pored over my shoulder and asked if I needed any help.
“No Mummy, don’t worry. I know how to do this. You can relax.” I was so sure of acing the test that I did not want anyone to claim a hand in my success.
“OK beta. Just make sure to hold the kadhai with a cloth as the handles can become quite hot. And call me if you need anything,” she said, stepping out of the kitchen.
I looked around and found a black checkered cloth which could be used for the said purpose. I had a spatula in one hand and held the handle of the pan with the cloth from other. As the kitchen filled with a delicious aroma I could sniff something else too, the smell of something burning. It wasn’t my halwa for sure.
Bam! There it was. One end of the black checkered cloth meant to protect my hand from being burnt was on fire. I shrieked, throwing the cloth as far from me as possible, which landed barely inches away from the gas cylinder.
My mum-in-law rushed inside accompanied by my husband who was also hovering outside in anticipation of some delectable halwa. With the swiftness of a ninja my mum-in-law dropped the wet kitchen towel over the burning cloth, extinguishing the fire and ending the horror. She asked if I was ok, and as I stood transfixed my husband chuckled – “that is an exciting first day in kitchen!”
I don’t know why, but tears rolled down my eyes fearing ‘ill-omen’ and other nonsensical things. My mum-in-law immediately hugged me saying that it was not a big deal and these things happen. She continued, “best part is that you are not hurt; that’s all we want. Next time be careful to fold the cloth and don’t leave the loose end hanging close to the stove.”
I saw my husband smiling reassuringly. That moment inside the kitchen I not only hugged my mum-in-law, I also embraced the idea of having a mother apart from the one who gave birth to me. Maybe the preconceived notion of the quintessential ‘evil’ mother-in-law is not always true. It has been over 7 years since that day and I have learnt so much from my second mom since then, from cooking, managing home to life skills.
So often women are made out to be women’s worst enemy especially in the case of in-laws but that may not be the case always. Now everyone is not as lucky as me but what is important is to keep an open mind with a positive outlook. If we keep our mind closed how will new relationships enter our heart.
Luckily that day ended on a positive note. An accident was averted, and it ended up bringing me much closer to my mother in law.
And yes, the halwa tasted delicious.
Image source: videoblocks
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Dentist by education, writer by passion. In my earlier avatar I taught budding dentists and
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