An ancient ritual

I married two months ago, in a fun-filled ceremony at my husband’s home, with our close family and friends in attendance. It was an efficient wedding, and very small, compared to the shindigs popular in the country now.

This is a story from after it. The wedding meant we had to visit relatives, which is an old custom. It is a way of thanking them for coming to the wedding and sharing in the happiness.

Now, I was very happy to do this, even though my family is big! We had to visit 11 families, and we bought gifts and gave our weekends to this. Here is what I was asked everywhere I went. “So, do you cook now?” Every.Single.Place. It came in different forms depending on who asked. This was uttered verbatim by my uneducated relations, while the more enlightened, those who had made the leap to the 21st century, asked me who did the cooking, whether we had a maid.

Now, forgiving the more enlightened ones who may have just wanted to know how I was faring in my new life, I want to take umbrage at the others. I didn’t know that my sole purpose in life was cooking for my husband, that my self-worth needed to be defined by whether I could cook! And the ‘now’ added to ‘do you cook’ means they think I don’t cook! I understand none of them paid me much attention when I was growing up or even after. Some of them didn’t know where I was working anymore, and asked me if I was still at a place I left 7 years ago! But then, where did the now come from? Was that an assumption I would not be able to cook? I mean I know my parents think I can’t cook but that’s because my mother’s cooking is out-of-this-world good (and because they think I’m unable to do anything anyway because for the longest time they thought I was 5 years old). But even they know I cook, I have cooked for them! But why do my relations think I can’t cook? If it’s not an assumption, who said I can’t cook? I have been experimenting in the kitchen with both baking and regular cooking for years now. I like to think I have a natural aptitude for it because my mother is an amazing cook. But apparently, that doesn’t matter.

So, by this time in the conversation, my mind is racing on all these possibilities, and I’m quite saddened. But I wake from my thoughts to find (again with the uneducated), that the conversation has moved on to something else like what my husband does for a living. In the last visit, this was a particularly bad question. The eldest of one branch of the family, my uncle is now quite old, and I understand may not know the rudiments of technology. But, that did not excuse his pestering my sweet and patient husband into fixing all the phones in the house. He kept bringing more and more phones gleefully, and asking for solutions.

Now, this is not to say I didn’t enjoy the visits. Most of my relations are delightful. They fed us amazing food and chatted to us about our educational goals and careers. They made us laugh and feel loved. And they kept heaping gift after gift on us. For those reasons and more, I loved the visits. And it was much fun chatting to my relations because many of them are adorable and I have such connections with them.

For the most part, those outweigh the negative aspects. And even with the cooking issue, I don’t mind discussing it with my cooler relations. It is those who are judgemental and gossipy I do not like. Relations can be a scourge as all of us know, but what I don’t get is why cooking is such a big deal for a woman? 1. Is it bad for the husband to know how to cook? 2. Must a woman know how to cook? 3. If she does (or even doesn’t) MUST she cook? 4. Is this the most important question to ask someone when they come to visit? 5. Would you have asked this of someone who was older or from your own generation? 6. Were you asked this when you went visiting? Ahh, the questions are endless!

Seriously, people! Let others be! You don’t have to give people a hard time!

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