The kitchen has exerted a stranglehold on women for centuries. They clean, they cook, they serve, and they clear the table once everyone is done eating. When they finally sit down to have their own meal, they’re already planning the next meal.
Since I turned 18 or 19, I started asking Maa to sit with us on the dining table for meals. My requests, and even vexed demands at times, are often met with her insistence and resistance. “I like serving you all garam-garam phulke, it’s not like I have a 9-5 job that tires me out”, she said. So even in a house where my sister and I did very little housework, Papa cut fruits and made tea, and we had house help, the idea that a woman’s efficacy in the kitchen and on the dining table ties into her worth still goes hand in hand.
This misogyny doesn’t hold just wives and mothers in its clutches. It slithers down to daughters and sisters and nieces too. Can you think of the last time you were asked to get up from your chair and fetch a glass of water for your brother? Or when you were asked to pause your study or work to cut sabzi and not your father because he had to sort out his WhatsApp forwards for the day? Or when your mother asked you - and not a male family member - to help clear out dishes on the dining table? Was it as recent as today?