Thursday, April 16, 2020

Dreaming of Food!

-- 500 words
-- Write a fictional/ non-fictional love story with a happy ending
-- Make sure it has three essential elements: sweet, sour, salty
Mathangi KrishGouri DangeParomita VohraVeena ManiPreethi SanjeeviSneha AnnavarapuEmeka Kupeski Okereke
Reena wakes up from her siesta that Sunday afternoon feeling desperately homesick. Not just homesick, ‘home-food’ sick. She ‘sees’ her parents and sister as often as she wants, on video chats. Besides missing being in the same three dimensional space as them, where a hug is something you actually feel enveloped by, not just a word you mouth at the end of the chat, she craves the food that she grew up eating (without cooking). She also remembers her childhood sojourns at her maasi’s house, where every evening there was a fresh treat, sometimes home-made, like pakodas or halwa, or, more often, samosas, or kachoris, or jalebis from the neighbourhood halwai. She remembers being a greedy little thing, especially fond of sweets, so much so that her older cousins would tease her mercilessly, telling her that when she grew up they’d get her married to Chaina Ram Halwai’s son. At eight, it didn’t seem like a bad idea at all. She misses her mother’s fabulous stuffed parathas, and the particular smell of the heeng-jeera tempering in the almost everyday arhar dal. She could live on that dal-chawal forever, she thinks, imagining along with it a selection from her mother’s pickle shelf. Her favourite was the sweet and sour lemon pickle, while her sister favoured the mangoes pickled in oil. She sleepily staggers into the kitchen of the shared apartment, wondering if there is anything remotely ‘desi-ly’ delicious in the fridge. She can, of course, always brew herself a cup of ginger tea.
It is snowing outside, in their mid-Western university town. Rahul and Ritu, her twin flatmates, are in the kitchen.
What’s cooking, guys? she asks. Ritu steers her into the lounge.
Patience, Reena, patience, she says.
Chai, Ritu. I need chai.
I’m getting you a tea-bag chai. Make ginger tea for all of us once we’re out of the kitchen.
Reena cradles her mug for warmth, watching the snow fall, trying desperately to ignore the delicious smells that are now filling the house.
Rahul and Ritu emerge holding a platter each, with a mock trumpet roll: Tan-tarr-arrra.
Reena turns toward the dining table. Samosas and jalebis. She can’t believe her eyes. The jalebis are perfectly shaped golden squiggles. The samosas look professional. Rahul brings a bowl of mint-tamarind chutney, and the ketchup bottle.
We were both dying to eat something fried and delicious. It’s certainly the weather for it, says Rahul.
How did you read my mind? asks Reena. I was dreaming about ghar ka khana and pakodas and samosas.
She takes a bite of the samosa. The filling and the casing are perfectly made for each other. The chutney adds its own little tang.
Mmmmmm, this is so good, she says, I could kiss the cook!
Ritu points to her brother. I am just the sous chef.
Rahul blushes. Try a jalebi, he says.
It melts in her mouth, the golden perfection of it.
That is the moment when she falls in love with her own personal halwai.

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