Graphic by Tejal Kawachi

People usually don’t enter the kitchen in their house to cook but to hog the food kept in the cabinets and it’s safe to say that I belonged to that very category. Cooking was still a long shot, I couldn’t even turn on the gas without my mother’s help, and all of this piled on me when I got married at the frivolous age of 20. Most of my friends were studying while a few others were still trying to figure out what to do with their lives and here I was getting married, stepping into an undiscovered and new phase of my life.

I had never entered the kitchen to cook proper meals and relied on pre-packaged meals even when I had gone abroad for my studies. Cooking had never been my forte or even something I liked. Imagining myself standing in front of the stove always threw me into fits of laughter.

One morning, my mother-in-law asked me to cook something for the family as a tradition. Not able to deny this tradition, tradition, I reluctantly agreed. When I entered the kitchen and stood in front of the stove, I realized what a grave mistake I had made by not asking anyone for help. Taking out my mobile to search for an easy recipe, I placed a wok on the stove. I then decided to make grilled chicken with sauteed vegetables. I kept the marinated chicken aside and started working on the vegetables.

Somehow I managed to turn on the stove and put some oil in the wok. I put garlic and onions into the wok to fry them. I was cutting the vegetables when someone called out to me. Forgetting to lower the flame and leaving the wok unattended, I went outside and started talking to my sister in law who wanted to show me something. At that point, a burning smell reached our nose. Realizing my blunder, we both swiftly ran to the kitchen. Alas! the damage had been done and the sight in front had our mouths agape in horror. Orange angry flames were all around the wok and the kitchen was filled with smoke.

Coming to my senses, I grabbed a towel spontaneously and put it over the flames. The fire was extinguished but the wok was hardly recognizable. I sighed in relief but was nervous and scared as to what would have happened if I was alone. Seeing my expression, my sister–in-law assured me not to worry as no one was hurt and commended me for using the towel before more damage was done.

Moving into a new house and living with an unknown family was scary in itself because you need to fulfill the expectations of your in-laws and the society. You need to get out of your comfort zone from changing your whole wardrobe to their liking to taking the full responsibility of the household, to following a completely new lifestyle. Your priorities change and from a bubbly and carefree girl one day, you find yourself overly burdened with responsibilities, tugging at the very edge of your mental health. Overcoming all these fears I tried adjusting to the new life and realized that stepping into the kitchen was just another test of my courage. Putting aside my anxiety and showcasing a brave front I started cooking which did not turn out how I expected it to, but it most definitely helped me muster my strength one meal at a time. I literally fired up the kitchen and got banned from it for a few days but later, I most definitely learnt to cook with the help of my mother in law and of course, the internet.

This incident taught me that even the hardest things can be achieved if you set your mind to it. You don’t need to accomplish great feats to show that you are brave – – sometimes just asking for help is enough and from personal experience I can safely say that entering a new house is difficult, but having faith in yourself can change a disastrous moment of your life to your bravest moment, like how it worked out for me.

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