“How was the pizza, beta?” I asked my daughter, to which she threw a counter question, licking her finger,” as delicious as ever mamma! Can it ever happen that you cook something and it is not great?” Her statement brought a grin on my face, as I was driven down in my memory lane to remember what I call “My cooking disasters”. The most memorable incidence dates back to the time when I had joined Engineering College and as my father was posted at other city, I used to stay at my uncle’s home accompanied by my brother, who was two years senior to me in the same college. Though I used to help my chachiji in cooking and other household chores, like any other studious girl, I was not very expert at cooking which was proved when my chachiji went to her parental village nearby and could not return on the same day. As eating in restaurants was not common those days and home delivery was not even heard of, this left the responsibility of cooking dinner for the family on myself with the assistance of my cousin sister Mona, who was younger and of course more naïve than me. All together we were four, including my cousin brother elder to me. We decided to cook a basic meal of chapatis and baigan ki sabzi, as our brothers could not dare to ask anything more from us. While Mona was kneading the dough for chapatis, I attempted to cook Baigan ki sabzi. After placing the vegetable on high flame, I took a stroll out of the kitchen, to get rid off the heat of the kitchen. Soon, the smell of burning brinjal filled the whole house and I came running to the kitchen, only to find out that by that time, Mona had put a glass of water in the vegetable to save it from burning. While we cooked reasonably round and thin chapatis, I took a glance at my attempt on vegetable. The outcome was some soft pieces of brinjal floating in yellow colored water, which in no way could be called ” baigan ki sabzi”. Exhausted with the efforts of one hour of continuous cooking, we decided to serve our brothers whatever was cooked. Like any other traditional Indian household, our brothers sat to eat while we sisters were making chapattis. Putting the first bite in mouth, both of them screamed, “What kind of vegetable is this?” I said,” How bad of you, we have prepared this meal with so much love and affection, and you are criticizing it. Moreover, you should be thankful to us that you have got something to eat, despite chachiji not being there.” At that very point of time, as a God sent opportunity an unexpected guest in the form of a distant relative called Mamaji dropped in and we were quick enough to serve the food for him also in a plate. Now, mamaji was quiet a gentleman and though he politely declined second serve, he did justice to whatever was served in first course. Our brothers could also not raise their voice in the presence of Mamaji and finished their dinner quietly. After this the two of us i.e. Mona, and myself sat for the dinner, criticizing our brothers for their callous attitude and unsympathetic comments, which we received after the departure of mamaji. The first bite in our mouth had an amazingly similar effect on both of us. With great difficulty, we both swallowed the first bite and looked at each other surreptitiously. “Really difficult to swallow”, I said to which there was no question of her disagreeing. We finished the chapatis with pickle, leaving the rest of the vegetable untouched. Though we felt sympathetic for our brothers, there was no question for us admitting our fault to them. So after finishing our food, to conceal all the evidence of our cooking disaster, we took the leftover vegetable outside backyard, where a stray dog was waiting for his daily dose of leftover dinner. We threw the vegetable, the dog sniffed it, tasted it and to our surprise, making a sound mixed of coughing and vomiting ran away, probably swearing never to come again. The behavior of dog confirmed that our brothers were far better than him. We forgave them in our hearts and promised to each other that we will never disclose this secret to anyone. Many years have passed since then and after finishing my studies, I got a job and subsequently got married. With the guidance from my mother and sisters, recipe books and a lot of experiments, I have earned enough experience to cook fairly good food that earn me lot of accolades from my husband, in-laws, kids and guests. But the memories of that baigan ki sabzi still bring smile at my face, whenever I get an appreciation from anyone.