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Don't let the pressure to marry come in between you and what you love, says this story about enjoying singledom.
Don’t let the pressure to marry come in between you and what you love, says this story about enjoying singledom.
I wanted to leave office early today, but could not. There’s a cookery competition tomorrow, and just so much shopping to do. Why am I worrying? Does anybody care? Would the parents of a fat, twenty-nine year old, unmarried woman, be proud of her culinary skills? If I call my mother and ask for tips, she will say, “wish you were married! You would have learnt so much by now!” Moreover, the contest is ‘for women only’, so there is no chance of meeting even one man!
Finally, I am at the market. Aromas, textures, colours, spices, sauces, gravies, juices, butters, cheeses embolden my entire being. Smoke and flavours spice up my otherwise dull life. I wish I had a good man with me, for it is a beautiful evening. The air feels like one of mom’s soft, moist, cotton saris, and it smells of a past once spent in the comfort of true love. I am so distracted. I don’t need a man, but fresh prawns, honey, chilli, beautiful cutlery, and a calm mind.
Yay! I am up early and will switch to chef-mode, right away. Look! How in the golden light of the morning, my prawns have transformed into pieces of elemental beauty. I wish there were someone to share it with me. Someone who would lovingly say…Gosh! I am diverting again. I must focus and get ready.
Good lord! there are hundreds of women here. And this place smells like a giant’s kitchen. Well, even if I don’t win, I will make some friends at least.
Good lord! there are hundreds of women here. And this place smells like a giant’s kitchen. Well, even if I don’t win, I will make some friends at least. “Hi! I am Rosemary,” I say to a lady on my right. She moans out to a man, instead, “Hubby, the judges will be late, so please take your lunch, and can you please bring me something to eat? I am starving.” He retorts, “don’t act silly. Just have water and finish this stupid competition.”
The lady to my left looks at them and mumbles “so middle-class!” I try to look at her dish, and she makes a face and says, “my husband made it. I don’t like cooking-shooking, but he enjoys it. I want an independent life, you know.”
This woman sitting in front of me seems very familiar. I remember, “If I am correct, are you Naureen, the winner of last year’s contest? Belated congrats!” She replies benignly, “Thank you! however, the entire credit goes to my family. My husband demands new desserts every day, my children are crazy about chicken, and my in-laws love the low-sugar halva I make”. “So, is your lucky family here today to cheer you up?” asks the “independent lady” beside me. “Oh, they are very busy. They like to spend their Sundays with games, friends, television, and whatnot. Why should I disturb them? But I know that they love me a lot.”
I am not feeling alone anymore.
The judges are coming.
What did they say? Did I hear correct? “Your preparation would have been great if you’d just added salt!” My day is over.
The winner of the contest is a young woman, not much older than me, actually. Right now, we are both waiting for a bus. I wish her, “congrats!” She says “Thank you”, and I continue, “your husband must be very happy!” She laughs at me, “I am not married”. “Sorry,” I say and she responds with a sweet sass, “Don’t be, I am not!”
I feel better: joy, shame, anger, but no guilt or grudge. I just want to go home, add some salt to my prawns, and enjoy them simply by myself.
Note: This story is based on the experiences I had while attending two major cookery contests in Hyderabad in the year 2013.
Pic credit: Image of spilled salt via Shutterstock.
Hi! I am Jhilam, a research scholar, working in literature and culture. Although I enjoy academic writing yet sometimes I just want to write for leisure, for the sake of being one with many other read more...
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My house-help asked excitedly, “I am going for wedding. Can you let me wear your red & black saree? To be honest I was stumped for a moment; I didn’t know what to say but I still said yes.
I lent a gorgeous saree to my house-help for a wedding in her family. Soon I stated getting questions if I would wear that saree again or if I was okay to be seen wearing the same saree my house-help was wearing?
We are all so conditioned to give our used clothes to our house-helps but are we okay to wear the clothes they were wearing?
A few days ago she came excitedly to me, “I am going for a family wedding. I want to wear your red & black saree, Ill wash and give it to you after the function. Please can you let me wear it?”
Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum (SISP) is an ode to all of the lost women, who could have been sports stars, singers, bankers, lawyers, doctors, just... happy, if they hadn't been enslaved in matrimony, and then forgotten all about.
One of the cool things about my mother was that she was an ace athlete and a champion sculler as a young woman in the 1950s and 60s. I only found out about this side of her a few years ago. I imagine her in a paavaadai dhaavani, taking on the mighty Kaveri river so many decades ago.
I recently watched a Tamil film anthology on SonyLiv that she would have liked to watch – Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum, (SISP) that has 3 stories of 3 different women – Saraswathi, Devaki, and Shivaranjini.
Like all the heroines in the anthology, my mother’s talents were sacrificed at the altar of matrimony. She pawned her gold medals and silver cups one by one to pay for expensive textbooks for us or a gift for a niece on her wedding, money for which she didn’t dare ask my father, because it was her niece… I remember how she caressed the cups and how her face hardened as she shoved them into her bag to take to the jewellers.
You need not depend on a man to give you the love and respect you deserve. Hug yourself and say, 'I love you.' That's the finest, beautiful, most vital love.
You need not depend on a man to give you the love and respect you deserve. Hug yourself and say, ‘I love you.’ That’s the finest, beautiful, most vital love.
I am a mere mute spectator to my life that is being rolled out at other people’s will and being stomped on when they found it suitable. Maa says, “A man is the puppeteer and the woman merely performs according to his direction, and that’s the way of the world.”
Why do married men hit on single women and feel that we should be grateful for it too? Here’s a fitting rejoinder to these men.
Being a single woman in the late 20s is tough. We don’t really get a chance to meet new men. Just the ones from our daily routine – colleagues, cab drivers, security guards, delivery men. We register ourselves on dating sites strongly believing that we could make it happen. We try to be very social, and attend every play, concert and comedy night with friends and friends of friends…
In our devoted search to find our man, we encounter a category of men who are most readily available. They are everywhere, in abundance. This is the most UNDESIRABLE category of men, rather the category that should be disqualified: Married men who hit on single women and love doing it!