Sounds of merriment trickled down the stairs as the twins used our bed as a trampoline jumping and landing on their bottoms only to pick themselves up and start all over again. Down a floor below, I stand in front of the burner pan roasting vegetables for our dinner. I scan the stove in front of me keeping tabs on all burners and shaking, stirring and covering as need be. How far I have come I muse as tiny feet now sound closer to me.
In the first year after getting married, I viewed the kitchen and the stove as my nemesis. It stood for everything between me and my liberated self. It represented bondage and domestic subservience. I muddled through the first few years, cooking as little as I could get away with. Sparring and trading three days worth of meals for one evening out. If sambar was on the menu, rasam was out. If there was kootu, poriyal was out and so forth.
As the years flew past and I grew financially independent, my relationship with the stove changed. Somewhere in between the kitchen transformed from a shackle to a refuge. An oasis to come home to. A place to wash off my worries with the soapy suds in the sink. Cooking became a favorite way to express all kinds of emotions.
With the girls in my life now, it has taken an altogether new meaning. Now it is about sustenance and nourishment. The need to feed is primal and each meal becomes something I pour my heart into. Each day as I set the table and watch Saathi relish his food, I feel something akin to love and happiness simmer in me. As I feed Ammani and Pattani and out of the blue I hear “yummy mum-mum” from one of them, I smile till I can burst.
From fear to hope to happiness, it has come full circle.