Women are harsh judges of men, particularly the ones they are married to. Marriage brings about a transformative change in her philosophy. The brother who she fought rancorously all her maidenhood, father who she diffidently argued with all her life, a mother with whom it was impossible to agree with on anything, all turn angelic and acquire haloes of virtuosity immediately after her nuptials.
I have steadfastly managed to keep out of harm’s way. In a rare fit of absent-mindedness, an ostensibly critical comment on quality of her curry, I was looking to redeem myself with the desperation of a full-bladder traveller queued up for an RT-PCR at a busy airport.
My wife held a dim view of my skills in any field of activity and my culinary skills, in particular, invited deeper contempt. That was one weak area where I saw greatest opportunity to salvage my eroding pride.
It was a Saturday evening and my wife, a doctor, was working her evening shift. She is usually tired and irascible, and sleeps early and deep. This was the moment to seize and impress her, not only by my enterprise but also by my growing affinity to matters of kitchen. Everything was set to the last detail. YouTube is an extremely empowering resource and soon a recipe for a cake had registered with me.
All major ingredients namely baking powder, eggs, butter, powdered sugar, pineapple essence and the works were arranged and discreetly posited in the cupboard to avoid suspicion. The plot was to execute a surgical sneak-in, in minimal illumination, achieve a perfect blend of constituents, complete a silk-soft churn to a frothy culmination and lay it in the microwave with feline stealth.
The plan went like a breeze. Saturday it was, tired she was, perceptible anxiety there was and her journey to deep somnolence-uneventful it was. No sooner her breathing became deep, regular and acquired the hum of a sound sleep, I leapt out and tiptoed to the kitchen. Dark adapted, I worked in the dark and went about my business with the fluidity of a well-rehearsed dance sequence.
Measuring and mixing and stirring and frothing and setting were accomplished in no time. Microwaves do have their “light and sound” but a closed door muffles its potential to disrupt a deep slumber substantially. Things went with celestial precision and the cake acquired an enviable shape and texture. I quietly transported it to the refrigerator and could barely sleep thereafter.
I waited with the throbbing anxiety of a candidate awaiting his job-interview results when my lady finally relinquished the bed, entered the kitchen and after some ‘this and that’ approached the fridge. She instantly noticed the altered position of various vessels and in no time spotted that exquisite work of fine art. Perplexed at first, the sequence of likely events soon dawned upon her.
Chest bursting with pride
There I stood, my chest bursting with pride, as she, with some grudging admiration and awe, appeared spellbound. Such events are rarities in any husband’s life and they were even rarer in mine. For once there was a slender hint of hope in her eyes as I sliced an elegant wedge with deliberation of an Opera conductor.
For the uninitiated, “Status Epilepticus” (SE) refers to prolonged, violent, jerky, involuntary convulsions accompanied with frothing from the mouth and can cause serious harm to the victim. The very first bite of my chef-d’oeuvre triggered a reaction that was eerily similar to the above definition of SE. My own first reaction was disbelief, but when there appeared a distinct threat to her survival, I intervened to help her sit up and offered a glass of water.
She recovered her calm and composure gradually and offered me a piece of cake. Life is always tough, it is never a piece of cake. First bite and I too was about to suffer a bout of SE when a timely expulsion from the mouth saved me the tremulous consequences.
To my horror I discovered, much to mirth (for her) and embarrassment (for me) that my nocturnal adventure had taken a hideous turn. I think the Gods are to blame. Why must two such utterly diverse items bear an identical appearance? Why did mother-nature make salt and ground sugar look the same? You see.
Dr Rakesh Maggon is a Dubai-based specialist ophthalmologist with an interest in literature