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Caught between mother and wife

This is a special offering to my mother on the Mothers’ day as she is a key character in the drama that I am narrating.

The television channels have always depended on the Saas-bahu (mother in law- daughter in law) drama for upping their TRP and every channel has a version of its own all essentially portraying the vibes between the two women in every house. I wonder if the media is responsible for fermenting trouble in many a house where there was no possibility of a rift otherwise. You could imagine the plight of the man caught between the two!!!

Whatever be the general drama that one sees on the TV, my mother and wife share a great rapport among themselves and all the more if I am the common target!! They support each other very well and might as well form a trade union to protest against the wayward behavior of the men at home starting with my father and now ending with my son!! It is a well oiled cribbo machinery that they run!!!

I believe that the secret to their bonding or amalgamation or unity or synergy is the unwritten rule that they have always followed which is “do not contradict the other”. To an unsuspecting observer the rule might seem to be stupid and ridiculous for how could there be a drama unless there is trespassing and contradictions!! But I suspect the peaceful atmosphere in my house is solidly built on that foundation. Thank God for that!!

Now, whatever be the show of united strength by mother and wife, I am in any case a bachelor in Singapore trying to earn my livelihood with mother resting in Coimbatore and wife tending to the grand children in another city. As an experiment I started cooking and the experiences have indeed significantly added to my learning. There was a time when I went out shopping I invariably returned with several bags of books on fiction. The books soon were eased out by audio cassettes which in no time were ousted by compact disks. The spree has now come a full circle and the bags are again filled with books almost entirely of recipes and cook books! I have also been buying plenty of kitchen utensils in all shapes and designs and varieties that the young girl at Mustafa cash counter finds it difficult to hide her amusement .. it must be an uncommon sight for a sixty year old man bringing up such purchases that are normally the preserve of the womenfolk!!

Jokes apart my attempt at cooking is entirely based on what I read in the books. Of late I have discovered Sanjeev Kapur and Tarla Dalal on the you Tube but you cannot run to the computer every time you have a doubt particularly when the oil in the pan is about to go into flames!! So I depend more on the books and have about ten of them on the dining table and more than one is normally open so that I am able to fully grasp the regional variations and the finer aspects of the Iyer and Iyengar recipe!! Any case when I wanted to make the kappai kootu viz the preparation of tapioca, I found the books were of no use as they did not list the item. But I was in the mood for kappai and would not want to give up.

Mr Thomas Alva Edison is a helpful person and his discovery of the telephone is really a boon to mankind. I picked up the phone and pressed the button to call my wife on the saved list. The voice on the other side certainly did not sound like my wife and in a moment I realized I had called mother instead of wife!! Blame the specs for such errors nay blunders!!

Having called her, I went ahead to ask for her guidance to make the kappai kootu. She would have otherwise become suspicious if I did not engage her in a serious conversation that too on the third call of the day. And, she quickly went about narrating the list of ingredients and the procedure. I guess all women are the same when they have to teach a man to cook! Or else how do you make sense of “little salt” or “more water” with no clue as to what the little and more meant in terms of precise measurements!!

Any case, that was an international call and I tried to memorise whatever she said instead of trying to write it down. The cooking process then started and I had added the tapioca and the green chillies as mother suggested. In went salt and turmeric powder and I now had a doubt. I had to call India again. There was no time to change the specs and I pressed the button almost mechanically half blind that I am.

The voice was suddenly so different and I wondered if mother had suddenly grown younger by two decades! In no time the realization struck that this call had gone to my wife and not to my mother!!! As I exchanged the normal pleasantries, I was intensely debating how do I ask wifey about a very specific aspect for the recipe. I was sure that she would ask me to go back to my mother and get the inputs. She might even add the punch line “after all your mother is a better cook na.. ask her input may not perhaps be as good”!! Therefore, I decided not to tell her that I had already consulted mother and went about asking for wife’s inputs as if that was the first time I was discussing the item. Once again I was memorizing the list and process and believed I had the clue to my specific problem.

I did a mental check on what I had done so far and almost involuntarily added red chillies as wife suggested. There was another break down and I had to dial again. And, this time as luck would have it, the call went to my mother!!!! The drama had to be repeated as I was again certain that mother will not contradict or question not even correct what wife had suggested. It was a fresh list once again and this time the confusion was about the oil to be used for seasoning.

The item was at last ready and I was by then so famished that I quickly gulped several spoonful of the kootu before I realised that it was extremely spicy!!! I was in tears by the time the second bottle of water managed to appease my flared up taste buds!!

It then struck me that in the sandwiched position that I was in between my mother and wife, I had actually ended up using red chilly as well as green chilly thus effectively adding twice the normal quota of chilly!!

I came to the painful conclusion, as I walked to the chemist to buy whatever was required to soothe my insides, that whatever be the concocted nature of the story between the mother in law and the daughter in law, the husband always remains the victim who gets messed up!!!

Ganesh / Singapore / 11 May 2014

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About The Author


Ganesh - R



A corporate manager for over 40  years with an all round exposure. Have had the good fortune of great bosses who unfailingly took the risk of trying me out with  new functional responsibilities  that I was neither qualified to handle nor had any prior exposure. This served as an excellent opportunity for learning and  the exciting process continues even as I am ready to retire! 

 Have bid adieu to formal learning process long ago but the quest  continues.

"Human beings" interest me the most .. the curiosity at observing and learning from fellow beings appears to be a key  driver at this stage of life. Would like to spend the rest of the days in making a difference to them.

Other interests include gymming, music, etc..  

Blogging seems to be a god sent opportunity to laugh at oneself freely and without any pretensions. It also provides an excellent route to introspection albeit a bit loudly!

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