A Stale Chapati by Muskan Sharma
I went into the kitchen escaping from the deadly silence that follows a catastrophe. With my mom weeping in a shady corner of a locked room and my father sternly reflecting over his life on the balcony, no food was cooked that night. I began to search amid the scattered paraphernalia of the kitchen when luckily I found a stale chapati in the casserole. Succumbing to the material exigency of my body, I went ahead to extract a course out of a crumb.
The torn pieces of the ‘whole’ chapati, bit by bit, settled the wavering acceptance of my family’s rupture that had been simmering in me. Liberating my saturated tear ducts while chopping onions, I deceived myself and the desolate kitchen walls into believing the falsity of my tears.
Flowing into the task of dicing tomatoes, my tears coalesced with their pulp and freshness, bled into the pleasant memories of my once happy family. I kindled the flame to the frying pan, waited for the oil to heat, and finally released the shredded onions in it. Their frenzied splash was no less than a rebellion, silenced with time that shrouded their pain in a golden robe.
Sorted vegetables, basic spices, and a stale chapati were the ingredients of my art, a recipe borne out of grief and hunger.
Adapting to the engulfing isolation of my room, I strived to eat. Every bite initiated fresh tears, loaded with anguish and amazement to trickle down my drooping cheeks. The unreasonable guilt of being hungry on a day, symbolic of my family’s failure ached my heart. My parent’s infidelity was a sword stained with the murder of my jovial childhood, abandoning a dispirited teenager, uncertain of her actions in this wildly unsettled world.
The simple yet so appealing flavours of the dish evoked an impulsive response of awe in my heart, which made me wonder if it is loss that makes us cherish the simple pleasures of life.
With no reaching hands, no affectionate cajolings, without a smile, slowly and with difficulty, I struggled to finish the food that night.
Food, though a requirement, appeals to the senses and invokes the warm memories of love, happiness, care, intimacy, and sometimes, grief. To me, the memories of food were the unconditional love of my grandmother poured every summer in a mango milkshake jar, the school friendship kindled by the sharing of my special pasta, the blueberry pancakes that sweetened the air on my first date. Those cute fights with my mother when she promised but did not make my favourite dish and my father’s affection boxed in an ice cream tub until the day my parents sanctioned their divorce and all those beautiful memories faded into the painful one of a stale chapati.
This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. For more information, see my disclosures here.