Is it a necessity that married women should know how to cook? Every time I go back home and meet my relatives I get hammered with this question that did I finally learn how to cook. It has been 1 year that I am married and so, for the society I come from, I ought to have learnt it by now. Whenever my relatives, majorly women asks me this question, I feel that they are waiting to satisfy their sadistic humour as they know that I do not like cooking and if I learn this art because of the societal pressure then they can finally put me too in their category of how a married woman should be. I am happy that this time too I have disappointed them.
When my parents were hunting for a groom a year ago, one of the conditions I had put across for my wedding was that I will not learn cooking and obviously my relatives laughed at it. They told me, don’t you know that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! Sorry, I do not want to reach his heart through his stomach… that is a long way!
Thankfully I am wedded to someone who agreed to my demand even though he is a foodie and is much interested in cooking himself. Some of the elderly women were not very happy. They said, “It is a matter of time. She’ll learn.” What they said has been true for many of my friends and cousins as I have seen them change within a month or two of marriage. Though they did not know cooking before marriage, they downloaded YouTube videos and learnt it.
This made me realise that cooking in the household is still perceived as a wife’s duty to her husband or a mother’s duty to her kids. The advertisements in the televisions too showcases this where the woman cooks to impress her husband, her in-laws, her guests, and if her father-in-law does not let her son play cricket, she cooks some chana masala for him and there he appreciates her son for his cricketing abilities!
Not learning how to cook is my silent rebellion against the societal categorisation. For if I learn, I will invariably have to do it. My friends tease me saying that probably yours kids might be the first ones who will not miss mamma’s food but would be waiting for papa’s food. I do not care.
I might be selfish. I am not a foodie; I take very little food and so eat whatever the maid prepares. If I do not like her preparation, I do not know how to guide her. However, I do not live to eat but eat to live. So I will not learn cooking though I miss my mom’s food. After all I am socialised in missing her food but I will resist the burden of history and will not indulge in the role play of a wife or mother who cooks food for her family. Cooking is an art and not the least bit easy. This art is forced upon women who might or might not have the inclination towards it. Also, just like any other household work, cooking food for the family is not given the required valued by the society. When men do it out of their inclination, they become the best chefs. I refuse to be a scapegoat.