Just as I was about to speak to my cook of ten years, my brain began sending this live feed to the rest of me. "Control your expression ! You do like his work, loyalty, sincerity, attitude and appearance. Ok, look away when you talk to him. Moderate your speech ! You only want him to know that these days he's taking too many calls while he's cooking ... and he's spending more time away with friends which pushes out the time when the kids should have dinner and go to sleep ... and he's routinely dishing out stuff which we have mostly accepted in our history together. Ok, ok, sound fair but firm when you tell him".
I finally said to him, "why don't you cook something different that is nutritious yet appealing to the kids "? The look he gave me, only Jack Nicholson could. Part confused, part amused, part defiant.
And I had hesitated about telling him that, after many recent reminders, he had not made a habit of replenishing the stock of items that were now important to us. Recommended in our book on 'food as medicine'. These would help our parents. Couldn't he imagine how happy we would be if he stepped-up or got a bit more flexible ? Couldn't he imagine how happy he would be with a higher place of pride in our household ? What had happened to that spark that prompted him to learn driving so that he could help with errands in the absence of our regular driver ?
Never mind. He had been good. Even now he was good. It's not even that he was beginning to burn out or reach a plateau. There wasn't a fat chance that we would misbehave with him or contemplate his replacement. Or would we, at times, if only fleetingly ? No, no. We shouldn't. What guarantee did we have that another new-age expert of healthy and interesting recipes would have all the other qualities that we so valued ? Of course our cook would continue to stay and work with us.
But our parents had changing needs and our children had changing preferences. If only he could also give us what the winds of change demanded. If only we could get rid of the faint feeling that we were just a little stuck with him. If the wind blew harder and he got blown away, whose fault would it be ? Ours, that we didn't tell him like it was ? Or his own, that he didn't realise it in time ?
Deja vu. When and where did I have the same experience ? Intensely similar feeling ? Vivid image ?
Many, many times ! Even at work ! Sometimes I was that cook and sometimes it was others who were. Have you been such a cook lately ? Have you seen one of late ?