Tag Archives: Sialkot

My Life as a Cook

When I got married, my husband was in Rajshahi, Bangladesh (former east wing of Pakistan). We had a marvelous Bengali cook. He was a culinary wizard. God bless him wherever he is. My husband, Hano (his nickname), told me to stay away from the kitchen. He didn’t have any inkling that on my part I had no desire to be there as I didn’t know the A to Z of cooking anything. From Rajshahi we went to Sylhet. We were fortunate to get another good cook.
My life as a cook started when we came back to Sialkot, Pakistan. Hano was at the border guarding our homeland. My father-in-law was staying with me and our baby son. Our orderly/cook asked for two to three hours leave. Seeing my woe begone face, he promised to be back by twelve. I waited for him to come back. Seeing that there was no sign of him, I could not delay going to the dreaded kitchen knowing my father-in-law would soon be asking for food. It looked to me that my doomsday had arrived. The chap before leaving had soaked mash dal (lentils) and rice in dishes. I cringe and shudder when I think back to that day to what I cooked. It was simply terrible but hats off to my father-in-law for bravely eating what I put in front of him and not saying anything.
A few weeks later, my life as a cook started in earnest as I was unable to find someone to do the cooking for us. You can guess what Hano had to endure. After practicing on him for a few months, I started getting the hang of it. He used to say, “Whether it is chicken or something else, there is no difference in taste.”
Finally I did get better. Sometimes I would crave a few words of praise at my culinary achievements. Hano would reply, “Look, I eat what you give me. That means it is okay.” Sometimes when I truly excelled (please do believe me), he would say, “Oh, you have reminded me of my mother’s cooking.” Oh my! His mother was one of the best.