One evening, I saw grandmother or as we fondly called her, “Mai” busy cooking food all by herself, whilst I was studying a few meters away for my Grade 8 exams. And, Uncle was responding to a question raised by one of his readers from a regional newspaper.
I watched her and could not resist myself. I kept my textbook aside and told her, “How can I help you in the kitchen?”
She replied, “Not yet, your time will come, be patient.”
I said adamantly, “No, the time is now, you can’t keep doing this forever.”
She looked at me sternly and said, “At this point in time, education is your best bridge to advance you further in life.” So, she scolded me and said, “Get back to studies, you can learn cooking later. Besides, your wife will also know it, so don’t worry about me.”
During this episode, Uncle listened to our conversation but never interjected. A few minutes later, I looked at him and he stopped writing and called me by his side.
He said, “Mai is right and you have to study, as this path will lead you to a better future.” He knew I would not give up, as that was a similar trait of his. He smiled and asked, “What does the word ‘Complement’ in the context of marriage mean to you?
I replied, “The wife would support the husband in things that he would not know and vice-versa in order to manage the affairs of the home.”
He nodded his head and said, “I will tell you something different.” He said, “Look at me, I learnt every household work and I am not dependent on anybody.” You have to be independent and self-reliant and so, you must also learn cooking.
I questioned him with a smile.
He said, “You want to go the Middle East to make some money, right, how will you manage your food?”
Then, he continued further, “We have this traditional belief that the girl must know cooking and manage the house while the boy would bring the money home. This thought process is wrong and unfair. You know, we take the women for granted but its time to change this thought process, not by words but by your actions. In the future, if there were a role reversal, would you be prepared to manage it? Let’s say this does not materialize. Now, your wife also goes to work and returns home in the evening after working hard the entire day. Do you expect her to sit and cook for the entire family?”
Would it not be beneficial for you to learn cooking so that she has the helping hand when she needs it most in the kitchen? Can you imagine the joy on her face when she finds food on the table after toiling the entire day. Only when you are independent, will you truly love and complement your better half. It’s a skill that you acquire over the years and you will always put it to use at the right time.
I asked him, “How do I explain this to Mai?”
He replied, “I’ll take care of it. Study well and learn cooking, not for yourself but for the ones who will join you tomorrow.”
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