Maa Ke Hath Ka Khana: Almost every person, when asked what their favourite food or dish is, would go on to name an item prepared by their mother- a childhood delicacy, the sheer memory of whose taste fills our heart with joy and light. Just what is it about Ma ke hath ka khana, that makes it such a fond part of our childhood?
Moreover, how many kids remember papa ke hath khana with equal reverence? While maa ke hath ka khana will always hold a special place in a child’ heart, we need to talk about how society uses this fondness to limit women to kitchens and guilts working mothers into feeling inadequate.
Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those very women who can’t stop raving about my maa ke hath ka khana and nothing gives me more joy in the world, than to have my little one ask for a second helping of food that I made for her, sans me breathing down her neck to do so. But my journey as a working mother has made me question the romanticisation of unpaid work women do at home for their loved ones.
We never talk about what cost women bear for this ordeal, not just physically, but emotionally as well. One of my aunts now nurses debilitating neck pain, from years of household chores like lifting buckets of water, atte ki bori, lugging around gas cylinders and carrying rakais up and down the stairs in the house.
She has been struggling through the lockdown to make a handful of rotis for herself and her husband. But am dead sure that the day her sons come to visit, she will pop some pills and get on with the chore for them, because the guilt of not being able to feed rotis to her sons will be much larger than the neck pain that would leave her struggling to pick a jug of water later.
That’s what romanticising of maa ke hath ka khana does to women.
We neglect our own well being to live up to this idea that our child’s hunger can only be satiated by food cooked by us. Maa ke hath ka khana has magical powers. It heals broken souls, it transports you to your childhood in an instant, mom ka daal chawal will trump five-star ka pasta any day. But, the labour every mother puts into making this food, the times she spends on it, and how it affects her personal and career choices need to paid attention.
Mothers don’t have any magical powers, we just have a heart full of love and years of experience, that comes form being initiated into kitchen work from our early years. If men are conditioned to love with all their heart, if boys and girls are taught kitchen work because it is a life-skill everyone should know, am sure baba ke hath ka khana will equally taste good to kids. And trust me, it does, my daughter can tell you that. [Image Credit: Screengrab]
The views expressed are the author’s own.