The EXTRA Ingredient

The EXTRA Ingredient

The stage was set. 

Floral hues emanated from the string of marigolds interspersed by red and white roses dancing to a collective festive tune. A long table erected on the dais was covered by a white cloth hooked to its edges by thumbtacks. A stream of assorted vessels and a burner stove adorned it along with a basket of myriad cooking ingredients. The psychedelic array of lights enhanced the potence of the décor along with hanging mics and cameras. Soft music played around occasionally punctuated by a whoop of excited revelry from the audience.

Rajesh blinked back tears, as life from the past 25 years flashed at a go, surging emotions so strong he had inhale deeply to calm himself. 

She won’t be able to do anything independently

She is a curse on the family….

You should have put her down in the womb itself…

What will happen of her after you both are gone…?

His wife of 30 years smiled at him gripping his other hand, her familiar warmth driving away the clouds of apprehensions hovering over his head since that morning. 

Rajesh stood up and walked out of the auditorium as the walls began to close in on him just like the day 25 years ago when the doctors placed his darling long-awaited angel in his arms. A tiny pink bundle with a delicate jelly-like wobbling body…. 

A gruff voice shook him out of his reverie. “Sir, do you think we need an extra row of chairs at the back…?” 

Extra… The word reverberated in his mental chambers, even as he nodded his consent. He continued walking outside. Would his daughter be accepted today…? Finally?

He welcomed the VIP attendees, but it was all in a blur. Just like the initial years after his princess arrived. They had been cast adrift on a lonely sea of unfamiliarity and pitiful glances…

Do you have extra money and energy to spend on her…?

“Raj, its time…” His wife gently prodded him, and he realised they were surrounded by the group of media personnel. The rental came to a halt at the entrance.

The door opened and she stepped out – barely recognisable in her new avatar. His daughter, Amrita dressed in a black gown hugging her generous curves strutted towards them with a sparkle in her upward slanting eyes. She wore her smile that always reached her eyes lighting up his world. She added that extra ingredient in his happiness.

Accha…. Amma, I love you…” Amrita announced amidst the staccato of the shutterbugs around them.

Rajesh looked up at the banner proudly.

Rotary club, Matunga welcomes chef Amrita Rajesh, winner- MasterChef Mumbai. 

Inaugural shoot of her TV show ‘Cooking it up with Amrita’.

Amrita was born with Down’s syndrome yet had meandered her way out of the disability shadows towards the light… She had become a celebrity, all set to conquer the culinary world. 

But, for Rajesh, she was his princess, whose crown wasn’t on her head but her beautiful soul…

Author note:

Down’s syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21. It causes a distinct facial appearance, intellectual disability and developmental delays


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Priya Nayak-Gole
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