Why is it expected of a woman to have a deep-seated passion for cooking? Of course, I love forking in experimental combinations on my plate, but over the years have been unable to seed love for the culinary art within the ramparts of my foodie’s heart. Perhaps that is why God decided to toss my way the ultimate litmus test of preparing food, consistently, 24×7, at a manic pace in the kitchen over the past five months while the cook trotted off to her village during the lockdown. Divine vengeance.
I have an avid consumer base within the family. Including two perennially hungry children. The elder, fastidious teen turning up her pert nose rather disdainfully at anything less than delectable (“Can’t we have sushi tonight?”) and the younger tween working through the rations rather methodically with his desi tastes (“Let’s have rajma chawal!”). As a result, my life skill (#MomCanCook) has emerged as a wreath – spelling ‘family certified MasterChef’. Forget the fanfare, it is a ridiculous ride every day. From hammering away like a horse on my laptop (I have calluses the size of cashews), crunching in mean assignments and wrapping work-related calls (while hanging off the window grill in a desperate bid to shun the home chaos and get better phone network), to working on my pea-sized biceps and triceps as I knead endless drums of flour, to slapping aloo parathas on the hissing tawa with jiggly globules of ghee melting away into fragrant nothingness; blotting my thick, sweaty brows and smearing make up in a jiffy while wiggling the WiFi in place for another InstaLive with a celebrity, loading and unloading truckloads of clothes unto the coiffured washing machine, cleaning the surly-steely refrigerator, shopping and sanitising foodstuff and home essentials to tutoring the younger one, conducting online classes, heaving dumbbells and panting under the hawk eye of my fitness trainer, and logging in timely for Zoom meets on work and virtual family celebrations… it has been a breathless marathon blitzkrieg. Looking at the errant, dancing, silvery sparklers in my tresses, and my crib sheet, while chomping gummies packed with vitamins and minerals, methinks I have aged a couple of years through the successive lockdowns. Whoever wanted to chase the chimaera of a supermom? Not me.
Shilpi Madan for DailyO
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