Any occasion that I cook for, I bake brownies. Also, my friends love my brownies. So I bake them all the time. Event in the society – Brownies! Friend’s birthday? – Brownies! Really good mood? – Brownies \(-.-)/

They are delicious as well as easy to make, once you get the hang of it. And there is so much joy to it all; the making, the sharing, the taste of a piece fresh out of the oven and the speed at which they vanish. I especially enjoy baking them. It’s not a recipe-procedure or a task for me; it’s a vibe. I am in my shorts, with a messy bun on my head, grooving to my music with a spatula in my hand, at 3 AM. It’s a happy baking thing. It’s a happy place.

My experience baking, eating and feeding brownies

  1. I have been having a weird time, which is euphemism for a bad mental health phase. I felt uninspired, demotivated and irritated. Tiny sounds of eating- the chewing, the papad cracking, the salad crunch and small burps felt like metal grating on metal in my mind. I didn’t dare enter the kitchen. I only lurked around, with the intention of making brownies. I finally entered today because I got a call from a vexed babyR in need for some baked chocolate. “Mumma isn’t well, so you and I are going to make cake. I am coming over in 3 minutes, be ready.”
  2. When I went back to my abandoned station post, I was greeted by rot. My dotingly bought and chopped basil, Lemongrass and cherry tomatoes, fresh cream had all gone bad and stunk up my fridge shelf.
  3. And when you carry a task over a fatigued being ‘it gets better after the first 5 minutes’ doesn’t apply. The task corners you into a dirty feedback loop: You don’t think clearly, things go wayward, you spend your scarce energy in setting things right hence depleting energy for the next task, making it go wrong too.
    I put the oven on a wrong setting and burnt the brownie top. I tried to salvage it with a trick I had learned in the early days of Via Dil: I covered the brownie with top. In 5 minutes, I found the plastic, not silicon, molten on the sides of my brownie pot. I picked out the plastic and overbaked the brownie into a hard rock. I softened them by drowning them in coffee the next day. The taste was good. I’ll make an attractive gooey brownie and share it with mummy and R at midnights some time lighter.
  4. The whole process wasn’t as sad as, I now realize, I made it sound. BabyR is a handful between her need to imitate an older friend who bakes and to eat all the ingredients before they have a chance to reach the oven. My favourite is the tiny tradition in which she licks the pots, beaters and spatulas and I don’t have to clean much and everybody wins. Except later – when she gets a sugar rush and starts bouncing around the house like Flubber – it doesn’t feel like a big win.

Many years ago, I learned the concept of ‘brute luck’, the luck I am born with versus the luck contingent on my actions and decisions – the color of my skin/my gender/caste as opposed to a lottery I buy that wins, for example..

My mental health is my brute luck. As is my access to mental health help. I wish I had less of “you got to work through it, who doesn’t struggle” and more of “how can we help make this better? you clearly didn’t chose this struggle.” Imagine how much easier life would be to carry if I had a helping hand right at the start. A very light hand at that – representation to puff up my confidence, non-prototypical guidelines, procedures, expectations, just an option of them – something that stops the feedback loop. Like reservation is supposed to, for people you don’t want your kids to marry, people you don’t want to work for. I imagine I would make better brownies in that world.


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