The first memory that I have of my life is that something soft lifted and placed me on a shelf. I was soon to know that the ‘soft something’ was a pair of human hands, and that it was my life’s purpose to serve them. I had no idea who I was, until one of my sedate family members told me that I was a pressure cooker. School was tough, and some of the courses, especially ‘How to handle pressure 101’ were gruelling.
The day finally arrived when I bid adieu to my family and friends. As I travelled down the conveyer belt to be packed, I stole quick glances at myself in the mirrors that lined the belt. I looked dapper, an elegant shade of silver. After that, things are quite blurred in my memory because we travelled for a long period. I knew by now what humans looked like and the sounds they made. I spent two days in a supermarket, before my new family came for me – a slightly older woman who lovingly ran her hands over me, and a younger one (her daughter, as I found out later), who was to be married soon, and to whom I would belong. I felt a small frisson of excitement run through my gasket.
I was packed and taken home, but was kept inside the carton for a few days after the bride went to her new home.
A few days later, light suddenly streamed into the carton, and my owner, Rhea’s hands gently lifted me out. She placed me on the gas burner and filled me with water. I was ready to live my life, to rejoice in the experiences that would come my way. I was both excited and nervous. Soon, I could hear Rhea talking on the phone, “Ma, I miss you so much. I have just taken the cooker out, and I remember the days before the wedding when we went shopping Ma,” and her voice caught. For a brief second, I felt nostalgic for my family too, but I quickly snapped out of my sombre mood.
Two small vessels containing raw rice and dal were placed inside me. My lid was closed, and I heard my handles engage, followed by the gentle thrust of the weight being placed on my head.
I felt my insides getting warm. And slowly, I took the test – I bore the heat and the pressure with dignity, checking if the rice was turning fluffy, and if the dal was of the right consistency. Finally, when I reached my threshold, I nudged the weight on top of my head gently, and let off steam for a few seconds. I put myself through the process over and over again. After the fourth or fifth cycle, the heat was turned off. My insides continued to simmer for a good ten minutes after that. This was my first assignment, and I had held my own; I had neither succumbed to the pressure nor had I blown my top. I had survived.
The first few assignments were difficult – sometimes when chole or rajma were cooked, I withstood pressure for prolonged periods of time, then again, when Rhea’s baby was born, I discovered that I could be caring and sensitive – I patiently cooked carrots and other mashed vegetables with love and tenderness.
The years seem to have flown away. Two more cookers have joined me – one of them is electric and has it really easy; but I am still the one who has pride of place in the household. But I do have some niggling pain in my gasket these days. My reflexes are not what they used to be.
But I have no complaints, life has been good. Rhea’s daughter is now nearly ten, and I have witnessed the ups and downs of human family life – petty arguments between husband and wife, happy moments, sad moments, fun moments, lots of laughter and lots of music.
I find it strange that these humans always talk about stress and pressure in their lives. They obviously have no clue about what real pressure feels like.