Yesterday evening, my husband reached home while I was serving dinner to the children. He noticed that the chapatis I was making were coming out a little flat and he pointed it out quite indignantly. I had to explain to him that I was feeling unwell. The fact that I was on my feet cooking dinner was, I declared, nothing short of a miracle. What I really wanted to do was lie down on the bed and fall into a deep sleep. I reminded him that I was suffering from a viral infection which was literally sapping my energy. He quickly backed off.
Some explanation is required here. Chapatis are pieces of Indian unleavened bread, cooked on the stove and eaten hot and fresh. They have to be cooked evenly on both sides and if properly cooked, puff up like a balloon. Well, in this case, there was no swelling to speak of, just flat bread. Actually, many of the chapatis I made last night, turned out well. He just saw the two imperfect ones.
Moreover, I didn't grow up learning to make chapatis. I had to learn to make them after I got married and came from western Europe to live here. I make great chapatis, but every so often I make the odd blunder. So what? It happens. If I make ten good ones an one turns out to be 60 %, I'm not going to beat myself up over it.
I know my husband very well. He doesn't mean anything bad towards me. It's taken me a few years to realize our different cultural perceptions. He thinks he's helping me to improve myself by giving me helpful feedback. Moreover, he's head of a busy university department and commutes between cities. If that wouldn't make one irritable, what would? If he really wanted to give me a hard time, he' say nothing at all and have his mother prepare the breads for him!
I was raised to have respect for anyone who cooks food for me, unless I'm paying for that service in a restaurant, in which case I have every right to complain if not satisfied. When someone is kind enough to cook for me, I gratefully accept it. If it's not great, I just keep quiet. Here in north India, preparing excellent food is considered the duty of a wife and mother. If she fails to do so, she can be ticked off in front of the whole household. Yikes!
It can be quite a problem battling with these different cultural perceptions. It is particularly important to have skin like a rhinoceros sometimes. But personally, I do forgive myself for making the odd dud. I'm only human after all.
But this much is certain. Next time I'm feeling under the weather, I'll refuse to cook those breads on the grounds that it will bring further tribulation on my head. I cook excellent rice, whatever my condition. So rice it will be, next time I fall ill!
I've have been participating in the Writer’s Workshop over at Sleep is for the Weak”authored by Josie George. This week (Week 37#), I was inspired by the 5th prompt, “Imperfection”.
This post originally appeared on Write Away on WordPress on 29/9/2010