It was just the other day when my wife, a homemaker, wanted to visit her mother who was ill that our tryst with the kitchen started. On the day of travel, she asked, “Do you want me to cook some dishes and keep them in the fridge?” I bravely said: “Oh, no, we will manage.” “But,” she said, “Anyway, I have prepared sambar, beans thoran, seasoned butter milk and dosa batter and kept them in the fridge.”
This was followed by some more instructions: “The maid will come at 7 a.m. Get her to wash the clothes and hang them on the clothesline. See that she sweeps the courtyard and tell her to come in the evening also. Please remember to put the trash bin outside with the lid closed for it to be cleared. Don't forget to water the plants.” To my son: “Don't forget to feed the fish in the tank. Don't forget to pick the milk packets from the box at the gate. For tonight, all the food is kept on the table.”
We saw her off at the station. We returned home for the adventure in the kitchen to begin. The following day, I picked up the milk sachet and looked for a vessel to boil milk to make tea. My dilemma started from then on. I was not sure which vessel was earmarked for boiling milk. From the numerous vessels stacked, I finally settled for one. I wondered why in the world we need so many vessels of different shapes and sizes! As milk was boiling, the door bell rang. It was the faithful maid. She wanted to know if sweeping was to be done first. I never had to interact with her before; it was always my wife and her: right from duties to duty timings, payment, loan, dos and don'ts.
Precious time was wasted in finalising the order of priority. I rushed back to the kitchen to find that milk had spilt over. With the little leftover milk I managed to make tea. Cleaning the stove was left for the evening. I ended up with three things in the sink — the milk vessel, a strainer and a spoon. As I just settled for my tea, the servant called me again. “Please switch on the motor to fill the overhead tank with water,” she said. There goes my tea and morning newspaper session!
Day One was easy as there were some bread and curry. I boiled an egg and a cup of milk, and my breakfast was over. In the bargain, three more vessels are in the sink. Well, I thought I will sort it out in the evening. Off I went for work locking the door. I was in the train when an alarming thought struck me. Did I turn off the gas? I was not sure. Did I lock the door? I was not sure. Did I switch off the ironbox? I was not sure. These thoughts kept tormenting me all my way to work and throughout the day till I returned home.
Lunch was over at the canteen and I returned home tired. I needed some rest. But what about dinner? I rummaged the fridge, found some cooked rice. Ah good, I silently thanked my wife for being so thoughtful. I put it in a vessel to warm. The curry, the beans fry, sambar and some fish curry. End result, some six vessels in the sink.
My wife has the habit of keeping the sink clear of dirty vessels, as they attract roaches. The kitchen is kept spick and span before she retires to bed. I wanted to emulate her. So, after dinner the cleaning and washing of vessels started. I was sapped at the end of the session. I felt like having dinner again. Tired and spent out, I just fell into the bed. Suddenly, I woke up at dead of night. The lights are on! Has anybody come?, No, I realised that I had left them on as I buried myself into the bed.
Day II dawned in an almost similar fashion. As I was having my bath, the telephone rang. Half done, I rushed out to find out that the telephone company was reminding me of my dues. Back to the bathroom to finish the unfinished task. I rummage the cupboard for vests and briefs. Where have they gone? I turn the cupboard topsy-turvey. I realise they were washed yesterday and hung out to dry. I have not taken them and kept them in their place. What about the socks, I am unable to find them too – a matching pair seems elusive! It is a hurried breakfast. Only egg and milk. Time is running out. I remind myself to close the gas stove, switch off the iron and remember to make sure that I have properly closed the main door.
Off I rush to office. I am already hungry. Then it struck me. Did I take my daily dose of medicine? I am not sure again! I try to rewind the day at home. I cannot remember opening the medicine box. I am in a dilemma. Better not take it when I am not sure, I resist the temptation to go to the medical store. I experience palpitation. Oh how I wish I could check with my wife if I had taken the morning dose. Her reassuring word would have been the panacea for my worry.
I come back home and find it brightly lit. Has any intruder come in knowing that my wife is away? I slowly open the door. Then the realisation dawns on me. After the usual power cut from 6 to 8, I failed to switch off power when leaving for work. I am sure that my wife is going to find it out when the monthly electricity bill comes. Next, some strange odour in the house. Gosh, I did not empty the trash today. I seal it in a plastic bag to be emptied tomorrow. I am too tired to cook or warm the food. I down some fruits with water. I also remember to take my medication and off I go to sleep.
Before that I set the alarm for 4 a.m. I need to go to the station to receive my wife. I am all excited as my travails in the kitchen will come to an end. I promise to help her in the kitchen every day. I hope it is not like the New Year resolution! At the station as I receive her very warmly, she sees something amiss, my usual abrasive behaviour has vanished. She is perplexed. “Is everything okay? Is there anything for breakfast at home?” I sheepishly answer in the negative. All right, then let's stop en route and have idli and dosa and a strong cup of coffee. This hotel near our home is famous for it.. I am glad to oblige her and off we go. May her tribe increase!