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She continued in her hoity-toity playful style, "I mean which moron claimed; the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Such hare-brained ideology. As if we women were born without one? Huh!"
She continued in her hoity-toity playful style, “I mean which moron claimed; the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Such hare-brained ideology. As if we women were born without one? Huh!”
If you thought love always happened at first sight, then it was different in the case of Palki and Pankaj.
She was my childhood friend and I knew her more than she knew herself.
So once when we were sitting at our favourite coffee joint and were waiting for our mugs of hot coffee I nudged her to share her love story. ‘Ah! Won’t you now tell me the moment when you fell for him? I’m sure something magical would have happened.
Did you hear the violins being played or the flamboyant strumming of the guitar; that’s how it happens in movies right? Did something of that sort happen with you?”
She looked at me, pursed her lips initially and later smacked it and said, “Well, not exactly the violins but I fell for his okra curry.”
“Really! But what was so special about it?” I asked curiously.
“He shared his lunch box with me. And let me tell you, the okra curry was so delicious I couldn’t stop licking my fingers. I was ready to even lick the remaining specks and bits from the remotest vertices of his steel box if only he had offered that to me.” She paused and later said, “He is a great cook! You get me?”
I kinda stared at her in amusement before we broke into a laughing spree.
“How true!” I seconded her views.
“I know, you see we’ll make a great pair, he loves cooking and I love eating; to top it all I’m very generous in doling out compliments. Not like those usual boring mama’s boys who open their mouths only to eat or to share their uncalled for critical reviews on how it should or could have been cooked.”
Meanwhile, our coffee arrived. We spent a few moments of silence; sipping on the hot coffee before I re-initiated our discussion.
“Is the family Okay with you not being that typical girl?” I enquired.
“My family was always fine with that.” I knew she had missed the point and tried to rephrase my question, but she wanted to finish before I could any further.
She went on, “Look, it isn’t like I don’t cook. I do that when I’m in the mood for it… just like …Hmm…Sex… Yes, Sex, you do it when you feel like…You get me!”
“Palki, will you just tone down your voice, we are in a public place. So watch your words.” I warned her.
Her eyeballs moved quickly to assess the ambience. She later got back to her feisty self and continued, “I understand, only men own the privilege to discuss sex,” she whispered sarcastically.
We sniggered within ourselves.
“What I meant was, is his family aware of your thoughts about cooking?”
“What… about me being an occasional cook?” She scratched her head for a while and replied, “As people say… I’m not an alcoholic but an occasional drinker. Similarly, I’ll say I’m an occasional chef.”
We laughed about it for a while before she fell silent.
“Now, I’m nervous. You made me think something that I never thought of. Will they reject me for not being fond of cooking?” she asked me dismally.
I think the trick question had begun to seep in, however. It had become a trick situation. The longer she sat feeling sorry for herself, the less sorry she felt. It’s called a reverse something or the other. There isn’t time to get into that now.
Before I could even try to console her she was back to her wacky self and continued.
“Such a hypocritical society. Where people are fine with their sons being professional Chefs but when it comes to the kitchen of the house they still want their daughters-in-law to take charge.”
“Hmm..true that,” I added.
“I’ll tell him to move to my place after our marriage. My parents never had any problems with me and they wouldn’t have any issues with him being good at it. You see, the issues are always from the boy’s family side. It is only them who try to complicate things and later conveniently put the blame on the daughter in law for breaking families, family ties and what not.”
We both were deeply engaged in our conversation when we felt someone’s presence in front of us. To our utter shock, it was Pankaj’s mother beaming at us.
“He…llo aunty Ji.” Palki stammered before regaining confidence.
“Hi, Palki, what a pleasant surprise. How have you been?”
“Fine… What brings you here?” Palki enquired with hesitation.
“I enjoy their coffee and sandwiches. I’m a bad cook who loves to eat.” She laughed. She went to the counter, placed her order and took a place beside us.
“So, who cooks at your place?” Palki asked curiously.
“Anyone who has the mood for it. Big deal?” Aunty answered. “Otherwise, how do you think Pankaj learnt the life skills?”
“Yes, Aunty you are so right, Cooking is a life skill that should be learnt by all.” I interjected.
“Absolutely, it’s not like brushing my teeth or bathing that I need to do every day.” Aunty continued.
“Exactly, my views.” Palki said with confidence.
“Palki you should come over to our place, Uncle makes amazing Rajma chawal. I’ll ask Pankaj to invite you. Ciao for now girls.”
She collected her order and left.
We both looked at her in awe when Palki drew her seat nearer to me and mumbled.
“You know what’s the best way to make boys learn cooking?”
“By encouraging them to do it.” I murmured back.
“Nah! By being a bad or an occasional cook.” Her eyes twinkled and we continued with our banter and laughter.
This story was shortlisted for our July 2021 Muse of the Month short fiction contest. Our juror for the month Jane De Suza says “The writer takes on gender stereotyping with an entertainingly light touch. The subtle humour makes its point and the language is contemporary enough to carry off the first-person narrative.”
Image source: a still from the film Wake Up Sid
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Finance professional,an avid blogger. I write to keep the child in me happy and contented. Contributing author of the poetry anthology Nyctophilia.Children's book Airavata and The Femme of Animal Kingdom. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Mostly Normal is a book of innocence, longing, filial love, angst and acceptance, encapsulating a gamut of human emotions within its lightweight edifice. The book touches the human heart and will stay with you.
Some books enthral you till the last page, and then there are those that you stop reading after turning a few pages. Some books are a one-time read, while you carry some books with you long after you have read them. Then, once in a while, a book hits you so close to home that you find it difficult to slot into any category.
I will put Priyadeep Kaur’s Mostly Normal (BookSoul Reads, 2022) in this last bracket.
At a little less than hundred pages, Mostly Normal is a testimony of the power of words to inspire, irrespective of their length.
Most women do not get to live their lives the way they want, on their own terms. So why should they be tied down in their old age?
Every morning, while dropping the kids at the bus stop, I find a grandfather waiting with his granddaughter. I see him again when I fetch the kids. This has been the pattern for the last few years.
He is seen actively participating in his granddaughter’s activities, from morning and evening walks to attending her parent-teachers meeting, sending her for extracurricular activities to even planning her birthday party. He is admired by all. He is appreciated for making himself useful in his old age. People rave that the doting grandfather is doing his duty towards his children and grandchildren. The much-admired grandfather is also a widower, having lost his wife years ago to chronic disease. It’s also to be noted that both his son and daughter-in-law are working parents.
Every day, the onlookers appreciate his sense of duty and dedication. They say that this is how the elderly should keep themselves occupied. They should bring up their grandchildren while their children go off to work.
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