"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




I had observed it over a period of time, and recently, when some relatives mentioned it to me, it was confirmed. My mother, since her retirement, seemed to spend all her time in the kitchen. She would either be cooking, or doing the dishes, or arranging and rearranging stuff, or just preparing for the next meal. It was like she went into a shell, called kitchen.
 
She chose the kitchen so that she could conveniently - in an undisturbed space of her own authority, amongst the mute spices and condiments - slice and dice her long drawn lonely hours, cook and roast them into mechanical activities, to satisfy the soul's hunger for productivity.
 
This is what a 9-to-5 job does to people. My mother had worked all her life in a desk job that needed her to clock-in at 9, review and make register entries all day long, and clock-out at 5. At the end of her career, she was a robot that did not know anything else.
 
I looked at my mother, slaving away in the kitchen...
 
I was determined to get her out of the 9-to-5 kitchen job she was trying to settle into. There was so much else she could do. She just had to be taken out of that culinary cage. So I went up to her one day and protested, "Mom, you got to get out of the kitchen and do something interesting. You are not a slave of this house."
 
She sarcastically retorted back, "Son, is there some dish you did not like? You can tell it to me directly."
 
I did not want to debate with a robot, and got into action right away. I would not let her rot in the kitchen. She had to use her time. So we hired a maid to do all the kitchen work and forced our mom to go live her life - visit temples, relatives, and just travel around. The maid would come in at 9, stay in and do all the household work - mainly kitchen stuff - and leave at 5. She would come with her adolescent son who would play in our backyard till his mother was done.
 
This went on peacefully for several days. Then one day I noticed the boy reading a comic. I went up to him and asked if he went to school.
 
"No. My mother cannot afford the fees," he said.
 
"Then how come you can read and write?"
 
"My mother teaches me. She used to spend the whole day with me showing me objects and teaching their names. She taught me to read and write. Actually she can be a great teacher for other kids too. But look at her now, she sits in the kitchen all day."
 
I turned around and looked at our maid. Yet another mother, slaving away in the kitchen...
 
 
 
 
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