Sarita was very anxious since morning today. It had been only 15 days to her marriage and she wanted to surprise her brand new husband. She had already asked her mother-in-law about his likes and dislikes, favorite food, and so on. Her mother had told her that she could win over her husband through her culinary skills.

Sarita wanted to learn music but her conservative family ensured that she learnt skills to be a good “wife and bahu” and concentrated more on teaching her housework and cooking. Her mother always taught her never to argue with her husband or in-laws. When she asked “Why”, her mom would always say that’s how she could keep everyone happy.

All of 19, trying to keep her saree in intact, her hands still having the mehendi, Sarita started to make preparations for kheer, a dessert that her husband liked. She didn’t want to go wrong. She made sure that the proportions of milk, rice, sugar, and dry fruits were just right. Her mother-in-law had told her that he liked thick kheer. So, in the heat of May she kept on stirring it continuously so that it wouldn’t burn. In that process once or twice her fingers had burnt, but she continued. It took her almost 2 hours to finish the entire process of making kheer. She had forgotten to have her breakfast too. Quickly she applied haldi to the blister of her fingers.

Her husband demanded lunch at sharp 1 pm. Sarita knew he would get grumpy if it was even 5 minutes late. She served him the lunch and stood at his “service” to serve more food. Her mother and mother-in-law had asked her never to eat before him or make no mistakes while serving him his food. Sarita was hungry, was starting to have a headache as she hadn’t had her breakfast, but she kept quiet.

Finally, she very lovingly served the kheer. She was all anxious to see his reaction. He polished off the kheer silently within a few seconds. “You cannot beat my mother’s culinary skills. You haven’t learnt anything from your mom. This kheer didn’t have the consistency or taste that I like. You can never be like my mom”, his tone was sarcastic, rude, and complaining.

Sarita’s eyes welled up. She didn’t know what was hurting more, the blisters in her finger or her heart

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