P—W  V° 02:04


by Shikha Rentala

Often in the absence of an alternate choice, you end up right where you started.

Back home, peering into the fridge, and left wondering. You thought you were meant for bigger things—as does every child who’s been told they’re special—but here you are, staring at a rotten banana. Starving, yet unwilling to perform the simple task of cooking a hot meal on a stove.  

You were told learning to cook was a part of growing up, and being a grown up. The countless burns and cuts are all worth the trouble of making the perfect dal, curry and roti. A training that would mostly reach fruition when you can keep your partner well fed and your kids nourished. A message drilled so deep into your brain. The responsibility of being the bread maker and not the winner. There is a muzzled attachment to the serving of food by the women in your family that you find hard to digest. It pains you to see, to remember your mother in the kitchen, and now the other women in your family, dedicated to serving others at the table. Never finding the nerve to eat among others, or even worse, eating from dishes that were tainted with the morsels of others.

Where do you go from here? Looking past the banana, you dig out a box of cereal to pour into a bowl. At least the milk isn’t spoiled. You accept this choice you’ve made and swallow, to continue to do what you can, and not what you should. The fact of the matter is, the very thought of spending an hour to prepare what disappears in minutes, tires you. That investment of mind and body. When there is nothing fresh waiting—you realize, there is no consequence of facing rot. You end your days with the satisfaction that you have neither pleased nor disappointed anyone.

And yet, and yet.

You walk to the nearest store and buy a fresh apple. You bite into it as you walk home, relishing the sweetness.

2022 © S.Rentala