She was now a memsahib, the youngest in the battalion.
The service wife, she was told, must institute a homelike atmosphere for her man and her progeny. “She must adjust herself to the community as she finds it.”
The community as she found it was too neighbourly. The men were too curious, the women full of advice. Most of it the unsolicited kind. But that’s how things rolled, she was in the army now.
She had never learned to cook. Reputations were made and unmade in the kitchen, standards were high. So, late in the evenings, she made her Captain teach her skills. They started with chai, moving up the food chain one recipe at a time.
She was glued to YouTube, her girlfriends sent her Pins. Sergeant Blimp’s Drumsticks and General Harrumph’s Wings. Major Grey’s Chicken and Cavalier’s Grill. Soon, with the blessings of Nigella, she was a domestic goddess too.
Her household grew in proportion to her prowess in the kitchen. Sunday to Sunday, trips were made to the regiment store; an herb garden bloomed on her windowsill. Her travels added to her pantry. Rajma from Jammu, kesar from Kashmir. Coffee from Coorg, Nilgiri tea. Two pressure cookers, one charcoal grill, and a food processor later, she conceived. The husband was euphoric; he started saving for a double-door fridge.
However, fate had other plans. Maybe she was not ready, maybe it wasn’t meant to be. The novelty of cooking wore off. Monotony set in. The memsahib started finding more and more reasons to not enter the kitchen. Her husband let her be.
Now she’s too tired to cook every day. Now she cooks only for Instagram.
Sahana Ahmed is the author of Combat Skirts (2018). An alumna of University of East Anglia’s Creative Writing India Workshop, her work has appeared in various publications including Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Juggernaut Books, and The Hindu BusinessLine. Visit her online at www.sahanaahmed.com.