“May I have a McD’s burger for lunch, mom?” chimed my 12-year-old as she spooned upma into her mouth, her beseeching voice sounding irresistibly endearing, thanks to 11 years of practice.
Thanks again to years of practice, I stood firm and said, “No, you may not! Last night’s dinner was Domino’s pizza. Remember our summer holiday deal about outside food? Once a fortnight only.”
“Aww,” she complained. “All my friends are having burgers for lunch today. We have decided to post our lunch pics on Whatsapp. You want me to feel left out?”
“Does your friendship depend only on lunch pics?” I countered.
“It’s not about the picture as much as it is about sharing experiences,” the evolving-and-dying-to-come-out adult inside her retorted.
“You can share other experiences like books, movies, school subjects. Why only food? Last week, wasn’t it gulab jamun?”
“You’re always saying no, mom. Do you know Kavya’s parents never say no to anything she asks?” Her whine increased exponentially with every word.
“It’s difficult to believe that, my dear. It’s likely that your friend might be asking for things that they want to say yes to. Like eating a homemade burger?”
“No! No! Homemade burgers can never look or taste like McD’s!”
“You cannot decide that until you make and eat one. I can trust you to be truthful about whether you like it or not, right?”
“Ok! Ok! Stop nagging. Make a burger at home for me. I’ll share that pic.”
“That I can do, provided you help me in the kitchen.”
“I have to help you too?” Her face, voice, and entire body seemed to creak and twist in agonising resistance to the impending work.
“Of course! Only then can you caption your pic truthfully, right?”
“You’ll help me with a good caption too, mom?”
I had other conditions about the burger that evoked many more complaints.
“Channa patties? Ugh!”
“Whole wheat buns! Yuck! They won’t be soft!”
“Pudina chutney! Ugh Ugh Ugh! That’s so un-McD’s, mom!”
“Don’t put lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, or tomatoes!”
“Oh! Mom! You don’t listen to anything I say!”
“See how much paneer and cheese I’ve added! Just like you like it! See the cheese oozing from the sides! Caption it, “Cheesy, Healthy Burger! Made By Yours Truly!” I said to mute all her objections.
That evening she said, “May I call my friends over for your homemade channa patty burger? They loved the pic as much as I loved the taste! We want to cook together. May I please? Pretty please!”
I smiled at the success of my plan! I’ll have to think of another plan to get my 12-year-old and her friends to clean up the kitchen mess following the channa patty burger party!
Upma – an Indian breakfast dish made with semolina
Gulab jamun – an Indian sweet
Channa – chickpeas
Pudina chutney – spicy, tangy mint sauce
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