Chumma Stories

Cook Little Mina, Cook!

“Mina! come and help me in the kitchen, simply sitting and watching tv.”

“Yaa Mina, go do kiitcheen work, ahahha” Nino teased.

Mina glared at her brother. “He was older, he was also dumber, but why did he never have to work in the kitchen?” she thought to herself, “what a douchebag” she said out loud.

She stepped into the kitchen and stood watching her mother mix the cabbage thoran with the broken wooden spatula, a few yellow pieces fell out on the stove, Her mother would clean that up at 3, after everyone was fed.

“Mina, you make the mango chutney. I don’t have time.”

“Ugh. okay.”

Mina despised the kitchen. In five minutes of standing there, your forehead, your mustachey upper lip, your back, neck, would all break into sweat. And if you were forced to wear a bra, as Mina was today, since her father and brother were both at home and “young girls should dress a certain way when men are at home”, you had your personal undershirt waterfall. “Why was the kitchen so hot always?” Mina thought to herself, wiping away the first of many beads of sweat.

She opened the refrigerator and felt some temporary relief, even though there wasn’t any particular smell, she still liked to inhale cold air and feel her nose close for a second before she exhaled. Ice vapours rushed to meet her face and she bent down to pick out one mango, two green chillis, some shredded coconut, small onions, ginger and garlic.

“Mina, take out some ginger garlic for me also” her mother said with her hand stretched out, Mina put it in to her mothers hand almost immediately. It was ike she knew exactly how much her mother needed, “so weird…” Mina thought to herself.

She set the cutting board on the counter below the masala rack. She began chopping all her chutney ingredients.

“Pass the powder Mina”

“okay now the other powder”

“okay now the…” Mina handed over the mustard seeds “ah yes that only”

“What is this power?” Mina thought to herself, amused. Mina knew exactly what was needed and when, “this is awesome!” she smiled.

Mina began to put all the chopped ingredients into the mixer, she was aware of the sweat pouring down, she was irritated by it. She was about to shut the mixer when her mother put in a pinch of salt and a little more coconut. Mina closed the mixer and switched it on, “why isn’t this switching on?” she looked, confusingly. Her mother rotated the mixer once more to let it sit correctly on the stand and it started grinding.

When Mina took a bowl from the drawer to empty the chutney, her mother closed the drawer behind her. When her mother went to the fridge to take out something, Mina immediately filled her place and continued stirring the masala mix. Her mother came back to stir and Mina went to take out some coconut oil to pour in the pan. “What coordination Mummy and I have….” Mina wondered. They were in sync all throughout, they were both copiously sweating too, but Mina didn’t seem to care, she had never felt so sure before. Her mother and her seemed to have some exotic chemistry in the kitchen, they were dancing together in perfect beat, each one knew what the other one wanted, neither got in the others way- puppets controlled by an expert, there was a perfectly established system, a choreography that seemed to have been practiced many times before.

Many streams of sweat later, the food was ready. Mina helped her mom set down the bowls and the family sat to eat lunch. Mina was too delighted by that power she felt in the kitchen. She had never felt such power before, “What is this power that Mummy and I seem to share in the kitchen?” she wondered. “Why don’t I feel it anywhere else?”

“Ey Mina” her dad burped out, when he saw his daughter engrossed in some happy thought near the window, “come and massage my legs, nothing you do all day” and he lifted his legs and lay on the sofa, eyes darting between her and the Tv.

Mina’s illusion of power was suddenly broken. She was just Mina again. Mina who had to massage her fathers feet while her own feet hurt from standing in a hot kitchen.

“I’ll go back to the kitchen tomorrow, that power might come back again.” Mina said to herself, grabbing the bottle of oil to go massage her fathers feet.

Gloom time

Sunday morning gloom

This morning, as compared to most other mornings, has been particularly hard. The routine is the same, to wake up and feel extremely guilty. I am supposed to be dead right now….

The ‘Survival of the fittest’ test that all human beings encounter everyday, I was supposed to have failed it last year, October 2019. Or maybe, I should have started failing back then, but by now, April 2020, surely, I should have failed.

‘ “TB is like living with a bomb in your lung.” Buddy had written to me at college. “You just lie around very quietly hoping it wont go off.” ‘ – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar.

So I decided, to be dead. I silently resigned from everything, from everyone. Every morning, I stare at myself in the mirror guiltily, because I know, I don’t belong here. I have not written anything I am proud of from December 29, 2019. In fact, I haven’t written at all, though my mind seems to be bursting with ideas. I don’t have the courage. I want to write about all these emotions, but I cant seem to bring myself to talk about this.

The other day I almost fainted in the kitchen. It’s a funny feeling, to faint. You feel weak at your knees, sweat trickling down your neck which feels….empty. Your ears close up with immense pressure, your head seems to be jumping up and down…like your soul trying to escape, but your entire body is nailed to the ground, you stop smelling the bananas being fried in fresh coconut oil. You feel like a soda bottle that has just been popped open, as light as the gas that escapes, but your head feels heavy, like a huge soda bottle weighing you down.

I am unsure of how to justify my body’s failure to myself. My mind seems to be stuck in a very toxic loop, sometimes I want the soda bottle to shatter on my head, glass splinters falling, slicing my already once sliced neck….

Sometimes, I just want to write about these feelings.

I’m glad I chose the latter.