The other day, a colleague was, with much animation, discussing her recent culinary exploits. An indifferent cook at best, I was fascinated by the amount of enthusiasm that a person could dredge up for something as insipid as putting together a daily meal.
“I wish I shared your enthusiasm”, I remarked. “To me, a kitchen is something you enter when you absolutely cannot put it off any longer.”
“Didi, for me, just having a kitchen where you can cook whatever you want for yourself is a dream come true”, she answered sincerely.
I knew Bhavani’s (name changed) story. Her father abandoned her pregnant mother, and when she was still a baby, her mother took up with another man. When she couldn’t’ cope with the advances of her step father any longer, she ran away to Bombay to live with an older sister. She was found in a Bombay railway platform, and taken to an institution where she lived for nine years till she turned 18 and joined the NGO I am with.
For her, a kitchen is the ultimate luxury, cooking the ultimate pleasure.
Speaking to her made me realize, anew, how much we take for granted.
Not so her. She used to attend our programmes as a participant, and credits our organisation with teaching her how to smile. So when she was old enough to choose, she decided to work for us and spread the smiles further. People like her make the world the wonderful place that it is.
I am proud to know her. And entering the kitchen will never be the same again for me.