An autobiography of a pressure cooker


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.

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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.

The traffic in our lives…


I am standing on the 14th floor in my friend’s apartment. I look out of the window. I can see the highway below, where cars and trucks are whizzing past, taking people and goods to various destinations.

Just behind the highway is a cycling track that is surrounded by lush greenery. People on the cycling track are enjoying the morning, the fresh air, and the feeling of goodness from all that exercise.

Beyond the cycling track is the ocean, where waves are beating against the shoreline. Boats and ships can be seen as mere specks from where I stand, bobbing gently on the water’s surface.

When I slide open the window a little, the sound of traffic is quite loud. Along with this noise, there comes a cool breeze that gently whips the hair around my face – so refreshing.

This is so much like our lives, where there is heavy traffic in our minds about chores, assignments and deadlines.

During some parts of the day we feel choked by the traffic; then again, when we are not so busy our life slows down a few notches, and we are on the cycling track, where we stop to enjoy life, where we focus on our goals and feel positive.

Then again, when the day winds down, we are at peace; we are in that in-between zone, where the day’s worries have gone, and tomorrow’s checklists haven’t invaded! A time when we are on the beach, enjoying the gentle breeze, rejuvenating ourselves and bonding with family!