She moves around the kitchen like a well-oiled machine. Cooking two curries simultaneously is something she has managed to do over the many years. In fact, on the festive occasions, she still manages to cook a three course meal without any help from anyone. Trying to take out some spices to put in her simmering curry, she opens the bottle. She takes some coriander powder and sprinkles it all over her curry. Now she has to mix it with the rest of the ingredients with the ladle. But wait, where is the ladle? She turns a cursory glance around the counter. No, it is not there. She goes towards the shelves where all the bottles and spices are. She must have put it while looking for the spice. But no, it is not there as well. Looking frantically now, she starts searching the entire kitchen.
And while searching for that lost ladle, she is reminded of all the things she has found. She is lucky to have found a husband who loves and respects her, more so now after twenty five years of marriage. She had chosen a man for herself who, a lot of people thought, was not right for her. She is a practical soul, a woman who moves on despite all the obstacles, a go-getter. On the other hand, her husband is an artist, a man who lives in the world of imagination and who is apparently irresponsible and impractical. But, she knew what she was getting into. He may not seem to care about normal worldly things but he loves her with a passion that an ordinary man cannot comprehend. In fact, she herself cannot believe sometimes that such a talented man could fall in love with such a simple woman like her. Together, they have built a beautiful home and raised a wonderful daughter. They have seen ups and downs in life but everything has fallen in place.
But somewhere down the line, while being there for her husband, tending to his needs every day, giving birth and taking care of her daughter, she has indeed lost “herself”. She has sacrificed so much. Once a state-level athlete, she gave up sports on the insistence of her father. A girl is supposed to marry and become a mother. She cannot spend her entire life running around and collecting trophies. No, that just doesn’t work. Her husband gave her much happiness. But when she thinks about the feeling of freedom that she used to feel while sprinting across the tracks, the wind caressing her hair, her every muscle and instinct in tandem focused on the finish line, she feels like she is a loser. She should have fought a little bit harder. Now, the only place where she uses her skills is while juggling with the utensils or sprinting across the hallway to get to the milk before it overflows while boiling.
The sound of the telephone breaks into her thoughts. Getting out of her reverie, she sprints out of the kitchen and grabs the phone. “Hello”, she says breathlessly.
“Hello Mom”, the voice on the other end says. It is her daughter. “I am coming home”.
Suddenly all the feelings that she has lost something, vanishes. She feels as light as the air. And she realizes that what she has found in life is far more precious than what she has lost.
Walking down in a daze of happiness after this realization, she enters the kitchen and her eyes fall on that very thing that she was searching for, her ladle. She had put it in the other bowl where the other curry was cooking. She picks up the ladle, smiles to herself and continues cooking.