Women are judged for all sorts of attributes: from their looks, manners, abilities and so on. But recently, thanks to a viral infection doing the rounds on the Internet, I learnt that making a circular ‘roti’ [or ‘chapati’ or ‘phulka’ if you prefer] is the hallmark of a ‘good girl’. Don’t believe me? In case you missed it, a poster made in apparently good humour lays down the criteria for what makes a ‘bad girl’, “bad’. Believe it or not, according to these guys inability to make a ‘round roti’ makes a girl ‘bad’!

Let us for a minute ignore the other equally ludicrous remarks and drawings made in the poster, but can anyone please tell me why a round roti is better than a non-round one?

Think scientifically, you have the same ‘Atta ‘dough, same rolling pin [belan], same rolling board and the same pair of hands. You make a round roti. Then you make a second one that is oval, oblong, ovoid, square or a map of some obscure country on this planet. Or even one that resembles an amoeba. Then you jumble them up. Close your eyes, open your mouth and taste them, one at a time. Seriously, do you think you’d be able to distinguish the round roti from the non-round one? Can you be absolutely sure that the round one is superior to its non-round counterpart?

Ask an expert roti maker and they will tell you that the texture of the roti lies in several other factors like the fact that the edges need to be thinner than the centre of the roti, that a little more oil works wonders, that layering the roti makes it wonderfully fluffy and crispy. That roasting it in a certain way makes it even softer. But the shape of the roti? Does it matter?

Nobody is perfect. Could you draw a perfect circle without using a geometry compass? No?

Then why expect a girl to churn out rotis that are round. If a ‘paratha’, which is the cousin of the roti, can be triangular or square and still be acceptable, why are we expecting the humble roti to be flawless? If a ‘naan’ and ‘kulcha’ or even a ‘rumali roti’ can get away with being any shape they attain, why are we obsessed with a roti being round? Do we condemn a ‘rotla’ or a ‘bhakri’ for not being impeccably round? Then why single out a ‘roti’? How about western foods; a pancake or a tortilla? Are they subject to such prejudice? Do we judge a lady by how perfectly circular her ‘crepes’ are?

We humans come in all shapes and sizes and nobody is perfect. Then why do we lay down parameters like a ‘round roti’ and other unscientific, baseless and inhuman ones to size up a woman’s personality? To call it humour and trivialize the issue is to use a very superficial if not artificial way of judging someone.

Only a robot, which has no heart, can make round rotis every time, all the time.

If a person has made the effort to roll out a roti for you, isn’t it time you looked past the shape and glanced at the blisters on those delicate fingers and those watering eyes which keep going in spite of the heat and smoke in the effort to toss out the rotis. Rotis, that you often take for granted.

So, ladies and gentlemen, before you judge a lady by her rotis…take a minute to thank her first for making them. Circular or not, they are rotis- food that should be given the respect that it deserves. Likewise the roti-maker needs to be acknowledged too. Before you jump to conclusions and in your haste label a girl as ‘bad’ based on the shape of her rotis, just think of how ridiculously distasteful it is to criticize somebody using this as a criterion.

If only you could be grateful for the rotis you received, round or otherwise.

Because one of these days you may receive a roti that is heart-shaped and in your fixation for a round roti, you will miss the affection and care that comes layered and toasted in every roti.

After all, what is in a shape? A roti in any shape will taste just as good!

* A ROTI is an Indian flatbread. Paratha, naan, kulcha, rotla, phulka, chapati, bhakri and so on are also Indian flat breads from different parts of India.All delicious, of course!