The Oven Was A Bad Idea

by Manish Bhanushali

Rashi and I bought a french press last year. A french press is a great tool to have; we make amazing coffee at home and it’s much cheaper over time than instant coffee, not to mention that now we are a league above the people who drink instant coffee who in turn are a league above the people who drink tea. We view our decision to buy a french press as an unqualified success.

Rashi and I also bought an oven last year. That was after we got the french press and just after we moved in together. An oven is quite useful too; we use it to reheat food and we try to bake sometimes. However, when we look at the kind of investment we have made in it, money-wise and otherwise, it’s hardly been worth it. 

Rashi and I moved into a tiny studio apartment last year. There was barely space for anything, but that is what we could afford with our entry-level salaries in a city like Mumbai. We went about figuring out how to make most of the available space. We decided against a gas stove. We couldn’t cook and we thought whatever little ‘cooking’ we would have to do, we could manage in an oven. We set out hand-in-hand to the nearest showroom to look for ovens and bought the one with the largest knob in monthly installments. We were set. 

Or so we thought! 

The fuse of our apartment tripped the first time we used the oven. It happened the next day as well. Hand-in-hand, we went to the showroom and asked the manager to replace it. He asked us about the output of the socket we plugged the oven in. We said we didn’t know that. He said we shouldn’t buy things when we don’t know how to use them and shut the glass door in our faces. We upgraded the output of the socket on an electrician’s advice. The oven worked fine after that and we used it to reheat the tiffin service food. We didn’t need to most of the time, but we wanted to get our money’s worth.

Rashi’s parents announced a couple of months later that they were coming from Pune to stay with their daughter for a night. Rashi and I cleared out every trace of mine that could be found in the apartment and I stayed at my friend’s that night. ‘But the oven?’ I asked her before leaving. ‘I’ll manage,’ she said.

‘The fuck do you need an oven for!’ they asked her, not in so many words. ‘You don’t have a chair in your house, but you have a darned oven!’ She said it was useful. ‘But you use a tiffin service! You don’t even have a darned bed and you bought an oven for 15k!’ How was she to explain to them that we are adults and we can buy anything we want! How was she to explain to them that there’s a ‘we’! 

A french press costs much less and can be hidden behind a coke bottle.

In another couple of months, Rashi went to stay with her parents and I invited Piya over, taking care to clear out all traces of her before Rashi returned. Piya knew how to bake and we baked a nice banana cake that night. I devoured it as if I’d never had a cake before. When Rashi returned, she asked me, ‘What’s this?’ pointing to flour around the sink. ‘You baked, didn’t you! Who did you bake with, you piece of shit! Was it Karuna?!’ 

I screwed up my mouth and she understood by that that it was not her, but someone else, a third. She flew in a rage and got hold of the nearest object, the french press, and flung it at me. It hit me just above my eye — from where blood oozed out — and fell onto the ground shattering into pieces. 

Rashi immediately rushed toward me and tended to my wound. I promised to never do it again, and she forgave me. And so what could have been a long, bitter fight was resolved in a jiffy with the help of a french press. We walked hand-in-hand that evening and bought another to replace the broken one.

A couple of months later, she said she was going to her parents’ house again. Perhaps this was a test. So rather than inviting Karuna (I’d fallen out of favor with Piya) to my place, I went to her place. There would be no signs at my place that way. When I reached, what should I see but Rashi’s sandals at the door and no answer to my several doorbell rings. I was livid. 

‘I’m moving out,’ I said to her when she returned the next day. ‘I don’t care,’ she said, nonchalant. ‘You can keep the oven, I’ll take the french press,’ I said to her. And so, in one stroke, I got rid of the oven and its monthly payments. 

Or so I thought!

I moved in with a friend as a roommate. I realized in a few days that I couldn’t stand staying with him. Rashi also told me that she needed me. She told me she wouldn’t do it again. I forgave her and moved back in with her. 

It’s been going well apart from the usual skirmishes every couple of months. 

We now think the oven was a bad idea. What’s worse, we’re still paying for it. We have decided to make better decisions going forward. The decision to buy french press is our benchmark.

We recently looked at a coffee table. It’s pure elegance, all wood and glass. It would sit royally in the middle of our tiny apartment and completely transform it and our lives. It costs 5k less than the oven and is very beautiful. We’ve decided to buy it once we’ve paid off the oven.

We don’t know what to do with the oven though.

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