The women of the house were away. The man and the girls were to fend for themselves. :O It was kalyug indeed. And a fearful one at that. The women had left reluctantly, fearing to find their family emaciated and ravenous on their return. The man was fearful of what he was going to have to put in his mouth the following week. He had suffered the onslaught of the girls' previous cullinary experiments with feigned bravado. The mere thought of a rerun made his taste buds curl in retaliation.
The girls themselves were scared of the daunting task ahead of them. Three meals a day! All edible, at least to some extent. Breakfast was easy, rustle up a few fruits, bread and cheese and some milk. That couldn't be Herculean. Little did they know. The milk boiled over ofcourse. The cheese was the one thing the women had told them to buy. With nothing to serve the bread with, they plastered some jam onto the on-the-verge-of-cinder slices. Didn't they know the man didn't eat jam?
"Come on who doesn't eat jam?" exclaimed Girl 1.
"I don't", replied Girl 2. Gaah.
The bigger meals came and disappeared with more significant mishaps, ruinous remains of perfectly innocent gobhis and baigans, and two harried souls. The man smiled amusedly at the antics in the kitchen: shrieks of horror, oh-my-gods, sighs of relief, blame games, tasting sessions followed by lengthy comments and advice on how to save the meal at hand. There were heated arguments at every stage of the process. Should the beans be cut into one inch cylinders or one centimeter cylinders? The units were crucial. Should we cook in oil or ghee? Now that we have too much water in the rice, should we just drain it off or keep it on the fire and let it dry up? See I told you we shold drain it, now the rice is all gooey. Hey we could turn it into kheer. Ya sure. The daal has been pressure cookered beyond recognition. Do you think the man will notice? And thus went on the tirade of whose question is more calamitous and thus elicits an immediate response.
If the cauliflower was put in the middle it would've actually looked like the tricolour. Interesting. The award for finest artistic chopping of coloured cubes goes to Girl 1. Girl 2 was busy getting mesmerized by the colours.
Cooking is a colourful activity. A rape of the senses. Pour in the oil. Watch it make designs on the bottom of the pan. Let it heat. A handful of mustard seeds get thrown in, sputtering in delight to be reunited with their long lost cholestrolic friend (reminiscint of the relationship Q shares with U in a game of Scrabble). The chishhhh sound as you empty out the cabbage into the pot. The smell of its wholesome greenery simmering over the now quiet mustard seeds. The yellow and red powders sprinkled in generous abandon. Adding colour, tingling in their hued flavours. A cook is a magician at work. Hands work tirelessly - sometimes with lazy precision, sometimes in hasty circles; slicing, grating, creating, redoing. A spoon is lifted to the mouth. You taste your concoction. The broth needs tang your mind says. The smells urge your nose to have an opinion. You smile, you frown, you wonder and make-up. You prompt, you pre empt.
A week later the girls were found with their legs propped up gorging on humungous pizzas. Ordered ofcourse.