For Love of Peace

SAVITHRI DUDDU

Satya started preparing lunch as it was 11 a.m. and since she had been working the whole week and it being Sunday, she wished to cook quickly and take the entire day off from house chores to watch her Netflix favourite shows. With continuous lockdown and no place to go, it was all she was doing: binge watching.

One of the fastest cooking recipes, and her favourite, was potato and peas curry. She could swing it all in the pressure cooker with spices from her mother’s kitchen and eat it with roti. Although it was her favourite, and a dish she cooked well, there was just one little snag. She and Sarang were newly wed and had never really discussed food. She didn’t know much about his taste for her favourite but she had to do what she had to do, so went ahead.

From the time Sarang had awoken, he was on calls with his colleagues because of an outage in a client’s location. Reporting of events, time periods and conversations were all he was handling all morning. It did not occur to him whether it was Sunday or a weekday. All he was focused on was the work. Food was the last thing on his mind.

Just as the clock struck 12, Satya was relieved as the lunch for the day was ready, and was all excited as the time had come to spend with Mr. Kirkman and his presidency in Designated Survivor, her favourite Netflix show. She sighed, thinking how someone who was never thought worthy to be in the White House got to be US president, and how to be right, to be truthful and be a people person were all challenges, irrespective of being from the East or West.

Suddenly, she heard Sarang opening his temporary home office door, formerly the den and dump of unwanted house goods. Seeing his face, she sensed he was not in a good frame of mind to be cozy and play around. He was already tired, though it was only noon on a Sunday.

Nonetheless, having served lunch, she was happy to gobble down. But Sarang did not immediately start eating, just stared at the peas. She was worried that they had not been cooked to the right temperature, that they were still raw. Raw peas, being sweet, spoiled the taste of the aloo mattar curry (potato peas curry) which was spicy with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and star anise. He asked if she had used the pressure cooker.

Satya was surprised about the question but said yes. She often used the pressure cooker to cook vegetables, lentils and rice in short time but there was always the possibility the food would turn out soggy and squishy. Today, she had cooked the peas and potatoes together and the peas were squished, rather shapeless. Little did Satya know that Sarang did not like pressure cooked peas. He made an expression – “Chiiiii” – indicating it was the worst ever cooked aloo matter curry and walked away from the table. That Sunday, husband and wife did not have lunch together. Satya was in shock. Her time with Kirkman and with her man both ended, she still kept wondering why peas, for Sarang, couldn’t be pressured.

For dinner, they had salad; and got back to their lives the next day with work that was more engrossing than their personal lives. Neither Sarang spoke a word about his rude expression nor Satya asked why she was given a stinker. The week passed by with regular dal-roti (lentils and wheat bread). On Saturday night, during a conversation about MasterChef Australia and the minute details of cooking, Satya pointed out how patiently the host advised the cook to take note of texture in choosing cooking method, and how open he was about it. Sarang, realizing her point, said he was sorry for his reaction earlier. He confided that he liked peas whole rather than squished; and said that because of the stress at work, he had taken his frustration out on her for the silly squished peas. That Sunday, it being Valentine’s Day, she planned to cook their favourite dish, paneer mattar curry, for lunch.

She wanted to be careful about her cooking because she had learned that cooking delicacies needed patience and passion. Every element added taste to the curry and the people around. She was glad she had had that conversation early in her marriage to avoid breaking the future peace of the house, but to have their favourite peas together with love.

She chuckled, thinking of her Sunday evening, not with Mr. Kirkman, but with Daphne (of Bridgerton) on being truthful and righteous in not just words but in action. It was all about loving one’s own for who they were.

Sarang came out of his office to surprise her with a wish for a Happy Valentine’s. He had a colleague cover for him for the day. Happily, Satya ditched her Bridgerton plans for Sarang’s sweet nothings.

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