That day the class was engrossed in discussion. We were discussing what we want to be when we grow up.
Ishaan said he wants to be a scientist. He is not very sharp, so I don’t know how he will become one. Ruchi wanted to become a singer. God save us if she became one!
And I, Manohar Das said, that I want to be a chef.
I regretted it the moment I said it.
The whole class was laughing at me.
“A chef! Only mummy cooks in the kitchen,” suggested Krishna.
“Cooking is disgraceful for a boy to do!” they laughed.
Why did I say ‘chef’? I fumed to myself.
Why couldn’t I have said astronaut or doctor or something like that? Now I was the laughing stock of the class. I bit my lower lip and endured their taunts during the rest of the bus ride back home.
I had always loved cooking, having picked it up by joining my grandma in the kitchen. It was my dream to start a multi-cuisine kitchen with the most mouth watering food but none of that mattered anymore. All I wanted to do was get off the bus, run home and lock myself in my room. And that is exactly what I did.
I lay on my bed, going over the incident, again and again, when I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door.
“Is everything alright?” asked my dad.
“Yes,” I mumbled but his chocolate coloured eyes studied me. He wasn’t going to let it go until I told him.
Dad listened to the whole story carefully and said, “Manu, there is no such thing as a woman’s work.’ As far as I know, you can make better pasta and sauce than any girl in town. Society shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love. Most kids your age cannot even handle a sauce pan. You are gifted and you should never give up. Other kids will not find beauty in blending ingredients or stirring the pot.
You are great at cooking and you should never feel embarrassed about it.”
Dad’s soothing words resonated in my ears.
Everything seemed ten times clearer now. I wasn’t embarrassed about my passion for cooking anymore and was ready to face any ridicule for it.