“Look at the samosas I just made”, I said excitedly.
“You made samosas?” my Mom asked me. “You. Made. Samosas?”
“Yes, Mom, look at these, aren’t they beautiful”, I said happily, tilting the webcam so she could see the whole batch.
Then I saw her face. Her eyes had grown large and round. Her face had taken on an alarming shade of white. I wondered for a moment if she had skipped her blood pressure medication.
But I knew what she was thinking. In her mind, she had put together a collage of me, a pan with boiling oil, the sizzling samosas, hardwood floors and smoke alarms, and she had filled in the rest of the picture. She had, after all, never seen me cook.
I remember, in tenth grade, my class was asked to write an essay. The topic was “How I made my first cup of tea.” This was easily the most difficult essay I have ever written. You see, I had never made a cup of tea before. I did not even drink the stuff, except at friends’ homes. I was used to Boost, Bournvita and Horlicks. I got tea at home only when I had a headache. So I was always solicitous of anyone who had to drink tea.
I sat in class, wondering how one makes tea. I knew what went into tea, of course. It was some combination of sugar, tea leaves and milk. The question in my mind was really the sequence of events. When my mother made my Bournvita, she first boiled milk and then added the Bournvita. But something told me it was not the same with tea. It seemed to me that for tea, you boiled water, but I could not be sure. How can you have water in a drink? Aren’t all drinks just milk? But I was also scared I was going to make a laughing stock of myself by writing the wrong thing.
I looked around the class. Everyone else was busy writing. Well, I told myself, I was in the Hindi heartland after all. Every other kid in the class must have been bottle fed tea at birth. No doubt, they also made their own tea and drank several potfuls each day. I, on the other hand, only ever went into the kitchen to check if Mom was cooking my Maggi right. This essay, no doubt, was Retribution.
I took a deep breath and finished writing. The results came back, but I was never really sure if I had got it right. Years later, when I made my first cup of tea, I realized that I had, luckily, made the right choice – you boil water, not milk.
Even more years later, I was now making my first batch of samosas. It’s true, isn’t it, we keep learning through life. Maybe in a few years time, I will learn to cook a full course meal. But not anytime soon, or my Mom might go into shock.