This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.

          Once upon a time in India, ‘cooking'  used to be the  prerogative  of a woman.  In that era, a veteran bachelor got married only  for one main purpose – to eat   home cooked food. But not so these days. Many men are deep into the art of cooking.


          But John, didn't know even the spelling for cooking and he refused to learn it too despite  gentle hints from  his wife, who had produced two smart boys for him..


"It's your domain and I don't want to  poke my nose in other people's business!" John had said defensively and bluntly.  "Very good principle," Rosy agreed.  "But. But.."   she paused deliberately and looked around. All the three heads at the dining table straightened up with eyes focused at the lone woman of the household.


        Rosy continued. "What will happen if I fall ill.  Who will cook for you masculines?  You know servant maids are very expensive in our area…." 


        "Yes, go on, mummy" the boys said in unison cocking up their ears.


        Having captured their full attention, Rosy let go her lines.  "Why don't all of you learn a little bit of cooking… you know for emergency purposes…. Cooking is  so easy, you know,  and so simple too?"


        The young boys fell for the pep talk.  "Sure mummy.  We are learning so many new things in school and why not  cooking  at home…."


         Rosy was elated at their enthusiasm. "OK sonny boys.  The first lesson  this afternoon after you return from school.  OK?"


         Within two days, the sons had picked up the technique of producing 3 particular dishes and on the third morning, they served a first class breakfast at the table. After tasting it, the father shrieked out, "You  chaps made this?"  "Yes," the boys responded with pride in their voice. "Very good.  Very good.  Rosy, how about including me in your training class from this evening?"  "Sure, honey " wifey replied and patted herself for motivating all the males.


       Rosy was  very happy at the way her husband and sons were taking to cooking.   She complimented them no end. "Excellent, excellent ," she would say and reflect in her mind, "Now I can put my feet up…." 


       It was great to be relaxing without falling ill.  Then one day Rosy found herself  wholly tired  due to too much of rest.  The boys wouldn't let her enter the kitchen.  "Take it easy, mummy. We will fix everything…"  The father too joined the gang and their culinary skill was reaching new heights.  Peter said one evening that he had worked out a recipe for a new dessert and would apply for a patent for it.


      Rosy felt herself  totally isolated. The boys worked out the menu and did the shopping as well.  Rosy realized  a few days later that she was an unwanted soul in the house. She went to the dining table as if she was a non-paying guest. "Aren't you all missing my cooking?" she dared ask one evening hoping to get her place back in her own home.


      "Nope", the hubby said. 


      Too much of inactiveness, was getting on Rosy's nerves now.  In desperation she bellowed, "You all can look after yourselves without me.  What am I here for?"


       Her indirect message was received clearly all right but completely ignored by the gentlemen.


       Then Rosy  announced her resolve.  "From tomorrow morning, I shall do all the cooking.  OK?"


       There was a strong protest. "No, no, mummy,  you stay in bed.  We will take care of everything.  You don't like our preparations or what?"     


       The kitchen, which was  her personal Empire had been taken over by the sons and father.  It had even become ‘out of bounds' for Rosy. 


       "Please  Please.  It's my kitchen.   I am its owner.  I won't let you hijack it," she begged.


        Nothing doing.  The boys won't hand it over to her.  "What for?  You wanted us to learn kitchen management and now we have become very fond of it. The hurting action was that they locked up the kitchen when they went to school. 


       Rosy shed tears.  "I don't  want to be an unemployed person in my own house.  I beg of you… I beg……"  Her appeal fell on deaf ears.


       All by herself that morning she summoned a key maker and asked him to either design a key for the lock or break the damn thing. And the great key maker, broke open the kitchen lock with a stone, collected his ‘key making' charges and vanished out of sight.


        Oh, did Rosy feel ecstatic  at  the  victory of re-capturing   her lost empire. 


       When the sons and hubby returned home that evening, she told them sternly, "Keep out  of my kitchen.  OK?  Don't come anywhere nearer than 15 feet.  OK?  And try to unlearn whatever you have learnt. Understand?"


        The moral of the story for a home maker is,  "Don't let the men-folk take control of your kitchen.  It's your property.  Don't  rent it out either not  even for a day!."   

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                                               Sweet grace (Israel Jayakaran)