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My dad has taken to the kitchen after his retirement, something that surprised me initially as unlike that I’ve seen in any men, but I love these winds of change!
It was vacation time again, and as usual I was looking forward to visit my home in Kochi.
My parents were waiting at the station to pick us up. They looked the same as they have over the past so many years. Standing together, side by side, craning their necks to get a glimpse of us. It’s more than a little competition between them on who would spot us first, and usually dad wins at this (which I think is because of his height).
Even before they spot us, my son had already seen them and sprints towards them screeching shrilly Appacha-Ammachi (as grandparents are addressed among Malayali Christians) and hugs them tight. It’s quite amusing to see their expressions change from “where are they” to sheer glee on seeing their grandson.
As we reached home quite late, we all went to sleep soon. The next morning when I woke up and sauntered into the kitchen I saw a bowl of porridge placed on the kitchen platform. My mom saw me staring at it inquisitively and said, “It’s for you.” The moment I heard that, I started gobbling it down.
“Dad made it for you,” she said. I stopped mid-bite when I heard that.
“Dad made this?” I asked shocked, as some milk spluttered from my mouth.
“Yes,” she said casually like it was something that happens every day.
“What? Since when?” I asked in astonishment.
Mom gave me a radiant smile and said, ”Just wait and watch.” And that’s exactly what I did for the next few days.
My dad seemed to have transformed into a Master Chef overnight.
Every day the menu was different. From exotic soups like pumpkin and manchow soup to millet upma, he was trying out a new recipe every day. And like a thoroughly professional chef the mis en place he would do before he started cooking was what impressed me the most.
At times the kitchen also transformed into a wizardry workshop as he would brew various concoctions, thankfully sans the long flowing robes and hat.
While one day it would be a cinnamon, mint, lime and ginger drink, the next day it would be a pineapple and raw banana cooler. The benefits of each of these concoctions were also told to you if you stood anywhere near him as he’s cooking. As I watched open mouthed these back to back Master Chef episodes playing out live in my house, my mom couldn’t hide her delight. Every evening when she is back from work, she is now welcomed with a nourishing and refreshing drink. She no longer needs to worry about what to cook for the next day.
My childhood has mostly memories of him constantly working.
While he was on business trips most of the time, the remaining time he spent trying to make up on all the lost hours of sleep. He loved eating, and boy he sure did eat quite a lot. He weighed almost 90 kgs then. And I do not have any recollection of him ever stepping into the kitchen, not even to make a cup of coffee.
Once he retired, I thought they would be spending life like any other retired couple. Where the man enjoys his retired life and the lady continues working because the lady of the house can never afford to retire. The house work never gets over and very few men are actually man enough to chip in and help out in the household chores.
I have seen many retired uncles spending hours together poring over the newspaper, and not budging an inch even to get themselves a glass of water. Whereas the wife would continue doing what she has been doing because apparently house work is equivalent to no work for many.
But at my home it was quite the reverse. My dad couldn’t bear to sit at home. So he started freelancing as a financial consultant whereas my mom too, decided to start a venture of her own. She started her own institute where she trains children and adults in public speaking and personality development. She is now an established soft skills trainer who is extremely busy. My father instead of cribbing like many men love to, has instead chosen to help mom in every possible way.
Dad has been having back to back health issues for the past 6- 7 years. From a brain hemorrhage to a cardiac bypass and still battling with heart related ailments. It’s been a tough time for both my parents, but they have only grown from strength to strength. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, dad has brought about a dramatic change in his lifestyle. He is now leading a healthy lifestyle in every sense, which is truly inspiring. I am a proud daughter as I see my dad checking out various new recipes on his phone shattering the stereotype, “The older you get the more rigid you become.”
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: shutterstock
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I am a mom who works from home and dabbles with writing when time permits.
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