Society & Lifestyle
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|by Mrinal Chatterjee|
It was about 6.30 or 7.00 in the evening. I was sitting at my writing table invoking the muse. My wife bulldozed into the room and said-Heiti Sunucha. These words are untranslatable in English. Only married Oriya man gets to hear that. For that matter all married Indian men get to hear those words in different languages: Ogo suncha in Bengali, Eji Sunteho in Hindi and so on. And when one hears those words spoken in a slightly nasal tone, like purring of a cat, he senses trouble. As I did and tried to avoid by not answering it. But she like the proverbial limpet or like an insurance agent (come to think of that she would have made an excellent insurance agent. Pity, how real talent is wasted in this country) never gives up. She sauntered near me and shouted - Sunucha (Do you hear me). After that amount of noise no self-respecting muse could linger on. So I put down my pen and looked at her-all ears.
"Pressure-cooker! But, why? I asked.
"To cook, what else?"
I did not understand the relation between having a pressure cooker and social prestige.
So I went and coaxed one of my friends to give me a loan telling him a lie (or, did I speak the truth?) that my wife was sick and I needed money for her treatment and bought a pressure-cooker, appropriately named - 'Prestige'.
So I went and bought a kilo of chicken. She opened the pressure-cooker with a flourish, and put it on the choolah. Now she would pour oil and fry the masala. Then she would put the meat on the masala and fry. They the cover would be put. Three seetis (Whistles). Bas, chicken ready. That was the theory. But there is always a gap between theory and practice. And this time the gap remained in the form of an obstinate cover that refused to close. I read the instruction manual; There is an arrow mark on the body of the pressure-cooker, another on the cover. Keep two arrow marks facing each other and gently move the cover to the left. She did exactly as per the instruction. The cover did not smugly close. Instead it rotated - Khad Khad, Kharar. My wife tried again and yet again- but to no avail. The cover was as obstinate as she was. 'Made for each other' - I thought in a feat of black-humor.
Then I decided to take on that obstinate cover and by closing it teach a lesson to my Srimati that I was not that useless. So I literally tightened my belt and thought about the achievements of men to boost my morale. It was men who built space craft, Empire state Building, Submarines. Phoo Dorji climbed a top Everest without oxygen, Mihir Sen swam across English channel. There is virtually nothing that a man can not do, if he sets his mind to it,." I thought, and could I not close a pressure-cooker cover? What is closing a pressure cooker cover to climbing Everest.
I heaved a sigh, and gave up. And then, for the first time I saw our ' mine and my Srimati's reflections on the polished convex surface of the cooker. There they were. Small limbs. Small round eyes. Large crooked noses. Two 'dressed' chicken, cooked in the pressure of life.
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