Col HP Singh (retd)
THE way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This was the mantra my grandmother gave to my bride when we got married. Honeymoon period is perhaps the only time in one’s life when one can attempt to influence one’s spouse. As luck would have it, I was posted in a field area those days and we dined in the mess. My better half was thus spared the drudgery of cooking. Opportunity does not knock at your door twice and I had certainly missed the opportunity of guiding her into the kitchen at that pliable age. It was not until our daughter was born, a couple of years later, that she adjusted to the concept of cooking, propelled not by my tastebuds but by that of our child.
Man does not live by bread alone. He also needs spice and a high in life. Yes, I had a special taste for mango pickle prepared by my grandmother and wine made by my mother. When my granny passed away, my supply of both these came from my mother. I realised the necessity of this talent to be mastered by my wife before it was too late. I used all possible means at my disposal to convince her to learn the recipes and perfect this native art. But alas, all my cajoling, threats and incentives were of no avail.
When my patience finally ran out, I decided to take on this task, fully aware of the fact that I was good only for cooking Maggies, and possibly a cup of tea. I took the recipe from my mom and got down to business on an auspicious Sunday. It took me almost an hour to prepare the pickle with silent prayers on my lips all this while. Call it beginner’s luck or hidden latent talent or simply a divine intervention, the pickle, when it was ready, turned out to be tastier than the one prepared by my mother. It was a feeling akin to having been awarded a medal.
Now it was my turn to get even with my wife. I hosted a party and during the meal made it a point to announce to the guests that the delicious pickle they were appreciating was made solely by my efforts and that my wife had no role whatsoever in it, in spite of my requesting her for years. One expected a sense of embarrassment on her face, and some sympathy from the guests, but that was not to be. She joined them in praising my efforts and unilaterally declared that next time I would be kind enough to prepare enough pickle for everyone present there.
As if this was not enough, she even declared that now with rumours of canteen liquor quota being slashed, I would even learn to prepare wine from her ‘mother-in-law’. One had heard of a counterattack, but this was the first time in my life, I was experiencing a counteroffensive. I was rendered speechless, indeed.
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