He was perfect for her. In every way. Her parents were liberal so they didn’t mind her asking him questions about what kind of music he liked. They spoke about their common interests, and he was taken by her appearance. Rumour has it that some men judge how a woman ages by looking at her mother. But it’s a little unfair. Anti-wrinkle creams are so much more effective in this century.
The first sign of worry was that he refused the vendekkai curry. They were sitting next to each other, their first meal together as husband and wife. The camera was zooming in on the rivers of rasam on their banana leaves. Their banana leaves were identical, even if hers was a little smaller. They both had the dots of payasam, the mounds of rice, the several coloured vegetables. But there it was. No vendekkai on his leaf.
She had no idea why they were called Lady’s Fingers, but whoever the lady was, she loved her. As the bare-cooked version in Madras, or the chaotic mix with onions and potatoes in the North. She remembered how she broke the ice in her first work place. She went and asked a coworker how she always wore matching Bhindis. Which made everyone laugh. Everytime someone got a Bhindi Ki Subji for lunch. She never liked the absurd name Okra. Sounded very wrong for an elegant vegetable.
In a month it was clear he hated vendekkai. He never ate it. He said it was too gooey. He said it became all squishy in his mouth. She gently told him, tears brimming in her eyes, that she would cook it so well that no goo would appear. That it would be firm. Almost dry. But he hated the vegetable.
Everytime they went shopping, she would look longingly at the slender vegetable. Lady’s fingers. Piled on top of each other. She would look at him, eyebrows slightly raised. He would refuse. The goo would not enter their kitchen. She would then satisfy her craving by ordering a vendekkai dish in every restaurant. But it would ruin the evening. And one day he said ‘Can’t you sacrifice this much for me. If you love me, don’t eat vendekkai ever again’. She then decided to stop loving him every once in a while in the afternoons, and eat the vegetable (secretly) instead.