There was a time, when a north Indian girl's hand was sought in marriage based on the roundness of the rotis* rolled out by the young bride- to- be. The mother of the bride used to say with pride, “My daughter can roll out rotis that resemble a full moon!” As one moved from the north to the south of India, the girl’s ability to cook rice or make filter coffee was enough of a reason to decide if the girl was good enough to marry your son. In a patriarchal set up, the roles were clearly demarcated and all things kitchen or keeping home was solely the girl’s responsibility, while the man had to go out and work.
Coming back to our story, a Punjabi family loves their parathas*, rotis* and kulchas*. The softer than soft, fluffy rotis depended a lot on how the flour was kneaded. A lot of effort went into making it soft and doughy and it needs to be kept aside a while, before being rolled out with a rolling pin.
But then, Cupid does love to throw a curveball. So, when Sandeep, a hard-core Punjabi espied Archana’s heart-shaped face, his heart raced and her delicate perfume rendered his brains to mush. They got married within three months of meeting one another. For the shy Archana, Sandeep was a force to be reckoned with. It was early 2020 and the fact that she, rice-eating south Indian rarely if at all ate rotis leave alone make them was something that crossed neither her mind nor his. Moreover, as the world moved into the 21st century, a single, unmarried, modern Indian girl was as ill-equipped to handle her home as a man, as she too was focused on her career and growth in the corporate world.
Once married, they had plenty of eateries that they could discover together and they also hired a cook who kept piping hot rotis* ready, when both of them returned from work to spend some quality time enjoying the silent and still air of Delhi. They spent many a pleasurable time loving and discovering each other.
The status quo would have continued had it not been for a country wide lockdown in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. The golden glow of their honeymoon blunted when they soon realized that both had to learn basic cooking if they had to survive on something more sustainable than instant noodles.
The initial attempt at making rotis* turned into a debacle as the dough was either thick as honey and refused to leave her fingers or the rotis took on a life of its own and threatened to slice their gums with its razor sharp edges.
A year on, Sandeep’s mother says with pride, “My daughter-in-law makes rotis* that are as round as a full moon and my son makes a mean sambar*!”
Chandrika R Krishnan likes anything that begins with a T- Teaching, Talking, Tales and Tea. She is a published author with her first collection of flash fiction titled - Vignettes- A Slice of Life Available on Amazon. For more of her work: https://chandrikarkrishnan.com/