Alone in the kitchen with an Eggplant Essay
I had an awful roommate in my first year of college at MCC. I was so sure I’d ace the roommate game. After living in an engineering hostel for two years, and being older than my roommate by default I was so sure that it wouldn’t be bad. I had seen some terrible things or so I had thought. But the rest of the year continued to be myriad of being absolutely broke because she would make me pay for everything to the point she knew my pin number and had access to my ATM, besides this I could barely ever concentrate because she needed constant 24*7 attention. Not to mention how she would constantly be reading and replying to all of text messages without my knowledge. I could perhaps write an entire book about this and possibly even have a lot of interviews with people who could all defend my argument.
I know this is terribly selfish and awful of me to say this but I’m being honest, there was actually a little tiny part of me that was relieved when the doctor told me that my kidneys had failed. Because that entire year I had tried everything to get away from that PG, and now I finally had the chance. The rest of the semester and exams were spent in the hospital at dialysis and living with my aunt till my transplant happened and I was forced to live alone. That is how much I hated my roommate. I was actually even considering of not coming back to college because she was my senior and seeing her face again was traumatic for me. But that is beside the point. I’d finally gotten what I had wanted, had planned in my head for so long.
Living alone for me was different than what usually goes on for most people. I didn’t have the liberty to have people over, allowed to eat outside for a year and I could not be complacent on not keeping my surroundings clean. When my surgery ended I was forced to live a month of quarantine. I was highly vulnerable to getting diseases and my immunity levels were incredibly low. A slight cough from someone would result in a complete body breadown. Thankfully, I went through that period successfully. I had enough and more to keep my occupied, the internet, laptop, a lot of ebooks and my phone. Instagram was a playground filled with food videos, I had been on dialysis diet for a couple of months, no salt, barely any water, no sugar with only certain vegetables allowed. Just plain food, no spice and no salt. I craved all things junk, I wanted to devour all that pouring cheese people in America were stuffing into those burgers and the biryanis Indian food bloggers were adding charcoal too. There was constant discussion between my parents, my mom was going to shift in with me for a couple of years till I got my life sorted. I didn’t want that. I told them she could be with me for two months or so but she should go back and live with Dad. They were concerned and rightly so- because I didn’t know how to cook. Making Maggie and hostel kettle white sauce pastas were not enough to keep me sustained for the rest of my life. I was so adamant on proving them wrong. I was going to learn everything in those two months from my mom.
I was physically unfit. I had become incredibly underweight, I was starting to learn how to walk again after a week of transplant, my stomach hurt every time I sneezed for six months straight and my left arm where my dialysis was done for months, vibrated all the time. There was a connection that they the surgeons had placed between my arteries and my veins that caused my my arm to vibrate like an electric toothbrush, it had become an amusement for all my friends who found it fun to touch. I don’t know what happened because I had gotten so used it but one day I had woken up and it had collapsed and I didn’t notice till someone touched and asked me where it had gone. The only and only thing that kept me going through all of this was the fact that:
I wanted to disprove my parents and show them that I could cook while going to college, live alone and do jhaadu-pocha and manage a house
I wanted to live alone because I didn’t ever want to go back to the situation I had just come from
This was a rather weird situation and left a lot of doctors puzzled who thought I should have been a lot more mentally down. I was in fact the complete opposite. I had never felt so motivated in my life to do something. I had gone from a person who used to wake up at 11 AM to waking up at 6 AM. For the first months moving into a new flat and living with my mom I tried to wake up earlier than her and make all the things I had been observing and cooking with her. I slowly started cooking dinners for the both of us. Simple daals. Moong, masoor and slowly moving into bigger things like rajma and chole. All of this while going to college, wearing a mask and sanitising constantly.
I remember once bumping into my ex-roomate in college, something I had been dreading. She ignored my entire existence. It made me feel that I was the one who had made her life hell the past one year. I was so happy, I could not health-wise and mentally go back into the same state that I had been before. I loved being alone, when my mom left- I remember being so excited to cook for myself. She had left me some paneer ki sabzi for dinner. But the next day I remember I had college, I woke up made two semi-burnt roti, stuffed some under seasoned aloo fry and wrapped it into a roll with silver foil. There was nothing more satisfying than eating lunch that day in college. I was so happy. My mother on other hand had pasted all types of recipes all over my kitchen wall in different vibrant colours. There was a list of weekly, grocery, recipes of different types of daal, vegetables and a colourful diet cart made on huge poster paper that I religiously followed for months till I started to venture out of it. I started to love and eating alone to the point I had actually become super productive in college. I used to finish all submission by 7PM although the deadline was always midnight. 7PM was always time to cook dinner. 8:30 was to eat and watch tv shows till 10. I’d read or do some college reading till 11 and fall asleep.
I really miss those days. Now that I’m back to living at home with my parents for the first time after six years although it feels nice, I crave making food for one, wrapping myself in a comfortable soft blanket, eating a bowl of moong daal and dahi, having complete autonomy over what I want to eat and watching a stupid k-drama to end my day.
This essay was written inspired by the book, Alone in the Eggplant in a kitchen, an anthology of series of people who are dissatisfied in living alone.