x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Desi girl: If I didn’t cook for my husband, he would just ‘starve and die’

The desi in me insists that regardless of full-time office jobs, the kitchen is the woman’s kingdom and her domain.

I returned home from work one day last week to find the house smelled strange. My nose led me to the kitchen door. I opened it, kind of prepared for the oncoming olfactory assault, but not entirely. The kitchen was absolutely reeking.

During a chat over the phone that afternoon, my husband had mentioned that when he was leaving for work in the morning, he had opened the fridge and had thought there was something wrong with it. Of course, in true desi husband fashion, mine had innocently disregarded the warning signs, assured that his good desi wife would take care of things and eight hours later, I got home to hardly anything left in the fridge that had not gone off. At least he had the good sense to close the kitchen door, saving the rest of the house from getting stunk up.

I sighed as I began emptying the fridge. As I discarded a pack of shredded mozzarella that had congealed into a big glob, I couldn’t help wondering about how differently the minds of men work, as opposed to those of women, especially in desi households.

Would a woman have gone off to work knowing the fridge might be broken? Nope. Not before making sure that anything and everything that needs cooling has either found a temporary home in a neighbour’s fridge, or has been consumed or discarded.

“It is kind of your fault,” a friend of mine gave me some tough love when I called her to vent. “How do you expect him to know his way around the kitchen if you are making breakfast sandwiches for him every morning?”

I begrudgingly agreed. I make a butter/jam or Nutella creation every morning and wrap it up in sandwich paper, leaving it on the coffee table.

“What will you do if you wake up one day to find that I haven’t made a sandwich for you?” I asked my husband one day.

“I’ll starve and die,” he stated, simply.

“Won’t you just go and make yourself a sandwich?” I asked.

“Nope,” he shrugged. “I’ll just starve and die.”

Both my friend and my husband have a point. For all my moaning about always having to do everything around the kitchen, I really won’t have it any other way.

Despite my staunch feminist sensibilities, I will always be desi at heart. And the desi in me insists that, regardless of full-time office jobs, the kitchen is the woman’s kingdom – and her domain. Sure, it would be nice to have help once in a while, but on a daily basis, I want to be the only one in charge of my kitchen and everything in it.

My ideas seem terribly antiquated to my western friends, who take turns with their husbands in washing up, cooking and cleaning. To me, their rota system is an abomination. In the 21st century, I have a hard time explaining myself. All I can say is that it’s a desi thing and our husbands sure aren’t complaining. We aren’t either; well, until the fridge stops working.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi living in Dubai