My Father and the Kitchen

“Father believes in equality!”
I wanted to shout to the world,
when I saw Father and Mother peeling peas together.

If only it were true!
This was just one day.

On any other day, every day, Father merely utters:

“Warm water”.

And Mother obliges. She doesn’t protest.
She knows her ‘duties’ a little too well.

Father and his tokenist equality runs in parallel,
which he passed on proudly unto his son.

Brother cooked rajma once, I remember, which till date is
the best rajma my mother has ever had.

Her ‘Raja beta’ had cooked it, after all.
Rajas don’t enter the kitchen (clap, clap!),
but he made an exception (clap, again!).

On one casual conversation I shared a fact,
Lions don’t hunt; the lioness does.

Father exclaimed—
“That is why I don’t enter the kitchen! (Rajas don’t, remember?)
I am the King and Mother is the Queen!”

Father laughed and Mother joined in.

I gently shook my head in disdain and let out a wry smile (of pity?).
Father confused it with my humble affirmation of his witty observations.
He smiles too. Mother joins in.
My anger boils but finds no vent.

On any other day, it is too huge a task for him to
Keep his plate in the kitchen sink after the meals
Boil the water for him to gargle
Prepare turmeric milk for his sore throat.

Once, I did protest.
“Why don’t you enter the kitchen?”
A little shocked, but more amused,
Father immediately began to cut already cut vegetables!
“See! You think I ‘cannot’ do it? I have done it all in my hostel days!
I ‘can’ do it!”

I sigh!
“It is not about capability but about equal responsibility,”
I tell him.
He chides me and says he will share equal responsibility,
but gradually. But he only says.
And goes back to scrolling WhatsApp.

Tired, yet hopeful,
I still wait for the day when Father would go to the kitchen,
without anybody’s saying,
do the dishes
not get his pictures clicked.

Sucheta Chaurasia has an MA in Media and Cultural Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

Featured image: Jim DiGritz/Unsplash