The pan has been hot for four hours straight now. Nina lifts the lid and stirs again. Making sure it’s a deep, important stir. All of the bottom of the pan is scraped, every molecule of curry moved. It’s an key moment and when she steps back she exhales realising she hasn’t been breathing while she was doing it. The women around her laugh.
“I can’t believe how seriously you’re taking this,” Meera says.
“She’s doing what she needs to. It’s okay.” Her mother is the comforting voice.
“Well you know my opinion of him, I wouldn’t bother,” Parminder pipes up, “waste of time if you ask me.”
“Look,” her mother continued, “if Nina wants it to work, I want it work, and so should everyone who loves her.”
Nina, wanted it to work, but she wanted all of her friends to be behind it, even her mother. Especially her mother. And it was exactly comments like that that made her feel that her mother was acting on blind hope rather than any preference for Anil. Maybe she just wanted her out of the house? As if to confirm it, her mother added…
“And with Nina out of the house, I’ll be able to turn her bedroom into a home gym.”
“Indira! Really,” Meera calls out, “you can’t be getting ahead of yourself.”
“There’s no chance with this one anyway,” Parminder confirms, “so I wouldn’t get too excited.”
“Listen you lot,” Nina finally getting her breathing under control decides to stand up for herself, “once he tries this he’ll be putty in my hands.”
Parminder gives a look and says, “Putty is the last thing you want in your hand girl, you want something all together more firm.”
“Like a cucumber,” says Meera.
“Girls,” says Indira, “you have to respect your elders. Listen carefully, I’ll have no talk of putty or cucumbers in this kitchen. What you talk about in your kitchens is up to you.”
“Yes Mrs. Puri”, both Meera and Parminder say together.
Nina looks at her mother with an extra ounce of respect. She knows, Nina remembers, how to run a tight ship. And then Nina’s mother adds something, “Anyway there’s no chance he’s flaccid after this dinner, it’s my mother’s special recipe.”
[Tune in next Friday for dinner.]