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Maa ke haath ka khana is glorified by kids irrespective of how old they are. We feel entitled to it, we get our favourite delicacies before asking for them. But, does this glorification help our mothers?
Maa ke haath ka khana – food made by our mothers – is something that makes everyone whimsical and nostalgic. In a country that values purity, it is worth more than the food at any five star hotel.
It is a labour of pure love. If my mother’s cooking is so good for me, then why does it make me feel guilty?
Don’t get me wrong. I love my mother’s cooking. I aspire to be able to cook half as well as her one day. I have thought long and hard about it, and the keyword in my answer is – labour. It is a labour of love, but it is still labour!
Mother’s cooking is special because it aims to nurture, and not just please. It is consistent in quality and availability. But to be able to maintain this quality and consistency, mothers sacrifice so much – even after their children have become adults.
The list of their sacrifices start with sleep. Mothers sacrifice their precious minutes of sleep every day, just so that they can wake up and get things ready in the kitchen. They do intense mental math to plan out the menu for the day – keeping in mind the likes and dislikes of the family members.
Most of the time, their own favourites are forgotten.
I moved out at the age of 21. But, I used to visit my parents once a month, to get my fill of maa ke haath ka khana. After I got married, I learnt how to make a home and take care of it – like a good Indian wife.
When I became a mother, I learnt to read every cue of my baby and take care of her. Even though every phase in my life brought me closer to my mother’s role, strangely the maa ke haath ka khana factor became more glorified.
In fact, whenever I visited home, I expected that my favourite foods would be lined up for me. I never even thought of asking for them openly.
I know that my mother likes her upma hot. Ever since I moved in with my parents, I have been watching her at breakfast. She waits for everyone else to finish eating before she sits down to eat. Her plate filled with upma turns lukewarm.
When I asked her why she didn’t eat before us, the answer was a smile that somehow pulled at my heart. Was it a whimsical smile? A cynical one? Or even a guilty one? I didn’t understand.
But what I understood was that I have been privy to the age old lie of putting someone on a pedestal so that they cannot avoid their obligations. In this case, maa ke haath ka khana is the proverbial ball and chain of our mothers, albeit a glorified one.
For example – I used to cook for my mom whenever she visited me. But, I never prepared her favourite food to carry with me when I visited her. Why did I not force her to have breakfast first? At least on the days that her favourite dish was prepared?
I believe it is time that motherhood is stripped of the glorifications of its labours. It should be glorified only for the intent and thought behind the nurturing it bestows upon us. Maa ke haath ka khana will taste even better then.
I vow to enable this change in my home. How about you?
Image source: a still from English Vinglish
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