I Hate It When I’m Expected To Cook
I'm capable of more than that.
Before you judge me by the title of the story, let me tell you two things:
I’m from a country where labor is ridiculously cheap (I can easily afford a full-time house help if I want).
I did not invest 23 years of my life learning skills and educating myself to the best of my abilities, later on, to cook and clean for my future husband and in-laws.
Growing up as an Indian girl, my parents would often joke around the fact that no matter how educated a girl is, she has to serve her household before anything else.
At 23, they continue to remind me that I’m still on the shelf, waiting to be picked. Marriages are still arranged. Decisions are made for me without me having a say.
Consent- sorry, what?
Not a day passes when I’m not told that I’m aging and that I should leave this house for my “own”. Twenty-three years of existence on planet Earth and not a second goes by when I don feel insecure and “temporary”, just like a tenant renting a house waiting to be kicked out if stayed beyond the contractual period.
So just like every other girl in India, I was trained to be a maid for my imaginary future husband and in-laws. I say imaginary because I never want to get married. At least in this lifetime.
“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” — the famous English proverb and my mother’s wise words (and her mother’s, and hers…)
To be honest, I enjoyed cooking till it wasn’t an absolute prerequisite to my existence. I would discover new recipes every now and then. I treated it like a hobby. It wasn’t an issue.
My parents were delighted and bragged and boasted about my “domestic achievements” to our relatives and family friends. I took it positively and never complained till it hit me. All this time they wanted to set a good impression of themselves in society so a nice boy would ask for my hand. My cooking ability was a top-notch skill in my marriage resume. And like an unware fool, I complied.
Yes, this is 2021, I’m a 23-year-old lawyer and this is modern-day India!
I would often ask my parents the hard question (or not so hard)- “Do you want to get rid of me?”. To which they would say, “We just want the best for you”.
Maybe my mother was particular about setting an image in the society so that I did not end up like her, in a broken marriage. Perhaps she wanted me to be a well-skilled girl so that my husband and in-laws wouldn't question my upbringing.
What affects me is that my own parents were unable to understand what I really wanted for my life.
The fact that I never received the love and care, the nurturing that parents could provide will always pose as a hurdle in my future relationships.
The fact that I am treated differently than my younger brother, will never fail to remind me that the more time I spend in this household (and in this country), the less of a human I will be made to feel.
I realized there was no use of never-ending arguments when the easiest way I could get out of this situation was to save up and move out. It would be hard and way too expensive but I can do it. Where I come from, it is absolutely normal to live with your parents due to the age-old cultural beliefs, traditions, and the skyrocketing value of the real estate.
Eyebrows are raised if an unmarried woman stays alone. Speculations arise. “Was she not raised well enough to be desired by a man ?”.
Or maybe she didn’t know how to cook!