While students in Oman have been going through a new phase of life, with online classes, absence of outdoor activity and the prospect of weekend visits to malls for entertainment and dinng out ruled out of their schedules, they have also learnt to join in household chores. For Athira R Nair, a distant education second-year college student, however, extra time at hand often forced herself to give her Mom a holiday from the kitchen.
“Though there was no class and the planned exams were postponed due to coronavirus issues, the lockdown time here was not at all tedious for me. The little ‘lazy me’ keeps trying my best to help my mother (not always) for cleaning and in the evening cooking,” says Athira, adding, “For cleaning, yes, I get paid for it and make sure it is a good way to realise difficulties of housework.”
Athira admits that in her home, the most pleasing place is the kitchen. “It is a place where we all spend a good amount of our time, a place for choice, a place for pleasure, a place for sharing happiness, a place for laughing, a place to taste ‘sweet and bitter’ and many more of life situations. So, I decided to enter into the kitchen, not just to help my mother, but also to learn some of the difficulties women face doing a thankless job everyday.”
Athira says her grandmother, too, spends a lot of time in the kitchen and makes a variety of dishes whenever she visits her during vacations. However, what she wishes to share is not an untold story of drudgery in the kitchen but how her little attempt in the kitchen made her learn many unleavened lessons that are not taught in school. Apart from the initiative to experiment and be creative, she also learnt to persevere and perform against odds.
With no expertise with the hearth, neither any experience to fall back on, Athira decided to give a twist to their daily bread (chapatis) and relied on YouTube instruction to prepare ‘vegetable stuffed parathas’ to conform to her own adage – Cook well, eat well!
With colourful ingredients for company – carrots, onions, cabbage, green chillies, capsicum, potato, paneer, spices and flour – and her mother peeping in every now and then, Athira churned out a sumptuous array of vegetable stuffed parathas with a carrot and curd raita as accompaniment.
A ‘thumbs up’ from her mother, at the end of the show, not just gave her the impetus to keep going in a new-found passion, but also brought tears to her eyes as the family enjoyed a delightful meal that was laced with love and labour.
“When you indulge in fulfilling activity, the lockdown never comes to mind. We can do plenty of things at home, but these are practical only if we stay dedicated,” she asserts.
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