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Healthy. Unhealthy. Toxic. What’s Your Relationship Spectrum?

Ever wondered what happens when a girl falls for a guy nicknamed ‘Frankenstein,’ despite all the warning bells ringing around her? Join Shenaz Treasury in All He Left Me Was a Recipe, a rollercoaster of love, laughter, and life lessons, as she spills the beans on relationships, awkward moments, and recipes that turn out to be more than just ingredients on paper.


All He Left Me Was a Recipe
All He Left Me Was a Recipe || Shenaz Treasury


They called him Frankenstein.
Her friends, Malini and Jarna, were wary of him.
‘He’s shady.’
‘He parties too much.’
‘He cheated on his ex.’
‘He lies.’


Their warnings rang in her ears, but she ignored them all.
There was just something about him. He was smooth, charming and made her laugh and giggle.
He loved strawberry ice cream. They often found themselves in Naturals licking ice cream together, giggling at his jokes.


She travelled for the first time in her life to Europe.
A solo backpacking trip. But after a few weeks he started missing her and showed up at her dorm.


They went to Italy and Switzerland. And while she wanted to see everything, he just wanted to chill, but somehow they found a balance and giggled all the way about how different they were. They laughed a lot.


All his jokes were funny until a year later, when the feel-good hormones and brain chemicals were starting to return to normal, and she suddenly began to notice little things. He drank way too much and his drunk rambling, which was once adorable, had become increasingly confusing. He had a myriad other habits that she couldn’t help noticing. It was a broad spectrum that ranged from blatantly flirting with girls in front of her to fights instigated by him on Fridays that lasted the weekend after which they’d find their way back to this bubble of infatuation by Sunday. In this bubble, he was still so attractive, still made her laugh and they still travelled, ate a lot of strawberry ice cream and had a lot of fun together.


And that’s the thing about attraction; it can blind you to everything else and throw caution to the wind.


She was in the studio hosting her 1000th episode on MTV. It was a big day and a great number of people had tuned in. She was on the couch, taking questions. She called on a girl from the live audience who had raised her hand.


‘Hi, I’m Jugnoo. Don’t you think it’s still a maledominated world out here in India?’

She considered the question.

With a deep breath she replied, ‘Hi Jugnoo. Well, um . . . Yes. I think that it’s a male-dominated world if we let it be. I mean, the world is the world we let it be, but we can make it the world we want it to be.’


Meanwhile, on the other end of the screen, her best friends were watching her from a beauty parlour. Jarna was getting a head massage and munching on potato wedges drenched in mayo with her big belly (she was pregnant at the time), and a very sad, tired looking Yogi, who had just broken up with her boyfriend, was getting her legs waxed.


‘Indian women face challenges, we all know that. We may feel boxed in by customs and fears and expectations. But we should be allowed to reject those things if they aren’t . . . right for us.’ In the beauty parlour, Yogi yelped as a strip of wax was pulled from her leg.


At the same time, in her living room, her parents, sister and a group of aunties were watching too.


The aunties all beamed with pride when they heard her say, ‘My own loving, beautiful mother looks at my world, my choices and my possibilities, and it’s a world she doesn’t even recognize. Our generation of women have the opportunity to create a world that isn’t, as you say, male dominated. And I believe we can.’


On hearing her speak, one of the aunties was compelled to share her own pearl of wisdom: ‘She sounds like she’s lost weight.’
The live audience clapped, and the switchboard lit up. It was time. ‘All right, let’s go to a call. We’re on with . . .’ she announced as she read from the screen. A muffled voice responded on the other end, the words not quite audible. She looked over at the control booth. The confused engineer held his hands up behind the glass panel.

‘Hi, you are on air.’ Suddenly, the muffled voice responded. It was positively female, and it said, ‘TV GIRL, stop seeing him.’
Her eyes widened.


Confused and wary, she ventured in an amiable voice, ‘Sorry? Do you have a question for me?’
The muffled female voice on the other end hesitated. ‘He . . . is with you and me, and God knows how many others for God knows how many months.’

In her home living room, her parents, sister and the aunties were all shocked.
‘Frankenstein?’ her sister screeched.


Curious to know what happened next?
Get your copy of All He Left Me Was a Recipe by Shenaz Treasury wherever books are sold.

Freedom to live life on our own terms

How many times have you stopped at a traffic signal and turned your face away from the hijra who stood outside your car window asking for money? Wasn’t it pure loathing that you felt? Wasn’t it worse than what you normally feel when a beggar woman with a child does the same? Why? I’ll tell you why. You abhorred the eunuch because you couldn’t identify with her sex. You thought of her as a strange, detestable creature, perhaps a criminal and definitely sub-human.

I am one of them. All my life people have called me hijra, brihannala, napungshak, khoja, launda . . . and I have lived these years knowing that I am an outcast. Did it pain me? It maimed me. But time, to use a cliché, is the biggest healer. The adage worked a little differently in my case. The pain remains but the ache has dulled with time. It visits me in my loneliest hours, when I come face to face with the question of my existential reality. Who am I and why was I born a woman trapped in a man’s body? What is my destiny?

Beneath my colourful exterior lies a curled up, bruised individual that yearns for freedom—freedom to live life on her own terms and freedom to come across as the person she is. Acceptance is what I seek. My tough exterior and nonchalance is an armour that I have learnt to wear to protect my vulnerability. Today, through my good fate, I have achieved a rare success that is generally not destined to my lot. But what if my trajectory had been different? I keep telling myself that this is my time under the sun, my time to feel happy, but something deep inside warns me. My inner voice tells me that the fame and celebration that I see all around is maya (illusion) and I should accept all this adulation with the detachment of a sanyasi (hermit).

The first ever transgender to become a college principal is a rare feat, the media has proclaimed. My phones have not stopped ringing since, and invitations to felicitations have not ceased to pile up on my desk. I would love to believe that those who fete me also accept me as I am, but how can I ignore the sniggers, the sneers and the smirks that they try to hide but fail? For them I am just another excuse to watch a tamasha (spectacle), and who doesn’t want some free fun at someone else’s expense?
Hurt and anger are two emotions that I have learnt to suppress and let go. It is part of the immunity package that I am insured under. I have finally accepted the fact that my achievements have no bearing on the people around me. They still think I am sexless between my legs and that is my only identity. That I also have a right to have emotions is an idea that is still completely foreign to most. I don’t blame them. I blame myself for not being able to ignore such pain. I should have long stopped bothering about them.

It is not that I have not had my share of love in all my fifty-one years of life. They were good while they lasted. I have had major heartbreaks too, but each time I learnt a new lesson. I have loved well and deeply, and I hope my partners, wherever they are now, would silently remember that bit about me. It’s another matter that relationships don’t seem to work for me. Those who have loved me have always left me, and each time I have lost a piece of me to them.
Memories rush back as I sit down to write my story. I write with the belief that it would help society understand people like me better. We are slightly different outwardly, but we are humans just as you are and have the same needs—physical and emotional—just as you have.



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Probing the complex relationships between text and image, author and designer, and art and commerce, Jhumpa Lahiri explains what book covers and designs have come to mean to her in The Clothing of Books.

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