Guest post from Arni M.
Gautami had recently stepped into a new family. The excitement of the new was coupled with the silent longing for the old. She found herself amidst her in-laws – loving but quirky, affluent but not flashy, intellectual yet loud. So many traits differed from her maiden family! She spent lot of her time observing and getting to know the new relatives around her.
Gautami had always been observant of her surroundings and she always tried to take the best from whoever she met. She followed the same even now. She tried to understand the ways of the new family… what was acceptable, what was not. But few things didn’t appeal to her conscience, leaving her with a dilemma whether to accept such things with a faith that the family knows better or to convince the family otherwise.
One such thing was the approach towards food. She couldn’t help but wonder how could everyone be so demanding when it came to food made at home? Each and every person had a different preference of food. Not that it affected Gautami directly – she was not the one to make it. They boasted of having a cook who cooked as per demand. Different items for all. Gautami wondered how anyone could be so proud of practically having converted a home kitchen into a restaurant of sorts. For her, a family that ate together, stayed together.
She longed for the daily dinners they used to have in her mother’s home… nothing special… they all ate whatever her mother cooked. She missed the subtle communication at dinner time about who liked what. She didn’t remember having to demand any specific food of her liking. Her mother had the freedom to cook whatever she could each night. Her mother noted who liked which preparation. Gradually her mother ensured that once or twice a week dinner included something which each family member loved.
Gautami still remembered how she and her brother would guess the food being cooked from the distinct aromas that filled the house near dinner time. Gautami would obviously be elated if it was her favourite. But she often found herself waiting to see her brother’s happy face too when it was something he loved. And then every night they all sat together – Gautami, her brother, her parents, and her grandfather – and enjoyed the simple yet delicious meal made by her mother. They ate happily every day, complementing the Chef.
Now Gautami longed for those simple happy dinners where no one demanded, yet everyone felt satisfied. It was so far away from the new dinners – made separately as per each one’s preference, as if ordering in some restaurant. And yet the conversations moved around food itself most of the time! Leaving hardly any time for playful banter and special in-house jokes which only a family can understand.
Each such dinner time left her wondering whether and how could she ever get her new family to eat gracefully and happily?