A Tale of Malabari Chicken Curry and Two Tomatoes
‘Bhaiya it’s my birthday!!! Please make that special Malabari Chicken Curry for me na…Please’. My cousin was after my life. Ok…ok…don’t do this Emotional Attyachar…I’ll prepare it…but I am only doing this because it is your birthday.
I poured myself an extra large of ‘Kala Kutta’ (Black Dog) and took out the necessary two tomatoes from the fridge. He again started, “Bhaiya!! No one in your family consumes chicken…so how come this knowledge of ‘Malabari’ Chicken Curry…hmmm…bolo bolo.” He immediately sensed it that I was not at ease with this question. The best I could manage was a smile…emptied one (more) large in a single go and began…
Few years back…
‘Ladies and gentlemen! Our next performer is surely going to take your breath away. When she moves…even her eyes dance with expression…and please get hold of an armor…as her smile is for sure going to stab your heart and take your life away ;). Please put your hands together for our very own Malabari Tomato’, the anchor announced. Actually, I was the one who gave her that name as every time I looked at a tomato…they always reminded me of her pink chubby cheeks. (Sorry can’t mention her real name)
He disappeared behind the curtains. Slowly the lights faded…the huge maroon curtains, which were hiding her from me, sluggishly began to move apart. She didn’t have a clue that I was a part of the audience…not even to this day. Several spotlights began to bathe her in various colors. It was a scintillating sight.
The music reached our ears…it was a malayali song and my Malayalam being so awesome that apart from that I could not make out what a single word meant. Some other guests told me that it was a mallu song…otherwise I didn’t have a clue ;) . She was at her graceful…stunning best in a blue sari. She had this uncanny ability of carrying off a sari from her school farewell days. On those particular days…elegance…poise and grace became her best buddies (read biggest virtues). She was the one who in stored my faith in the fact that a girl can look her superlative in a sari too with the perfect spice up of seduction.
She commenced. Her moves…her dance…made it appear as if she was effortlessly floating like a mermaid. She was glittering more than all the jewelry she wore…but it was her big brown eyes that outshone every jewel. Every time she smiled…it gave an instant kick…with a high that lasted longer than any intoxicants. It was literally impossible for me to take my eyes off her…actually no one was able to. That very instance a thought whispered to me. If ever I am going with a dancing partner…she should be her, if ever I am going to marry anyone…she should be her and if ever I am going to love anyone…she should be HER. My heart without informing anyone…even me…was now already in love with her. But I could never muster the courage to let her know how much I loved her pure soul…that had the innocence of a nine year old and maturity of someone way beyond her ages. To add up to my woes, I knew she was already in love with someone else. He being a mallu…I gave myself no chance and hence never confessed my love to her. I was just content cherishing the friendship that we had.
By now, she had a blog…sorry two blogs. One was dedicated to her cooking and the other – for her real self. I feel that these days’ urban girls are more of a food blogger and less of a cook (no offence to anyone). There was no chance in hell that I was not following her on them, as it became the only medium to get to know about her after college. She was like that old coffee addiction…no matter how many times you have had it…the addiction never fades away…and yeah…I was addicted to her.
One day She wrote a poem…a real heartbreaking one…a rare tearjerker even for the Joker. I immediately guessed it what the reason could be. But me being I…again was ditched by confidence and courage to man up myself and walk up to her and let her know that I have always loved her and I am always there for her in any and every sense she wishes me to be.
A year later…
The moment my flight landed…I switched on my mobile phone and messaged her, ‘I am in your city’. I literally had to dig deepest inside me to find this much mettle and character to make this day actually happen. I had to meet her…I had to tell her how much I care for her…how much I love her…how much I need her…before its too late.
Two hours later I was standing outside her home. I rang the doorbell. From behind the door I was very easily able to make out her childish squeaky voice. ‘Who’s there’, she shouted. With no response…she opened the door. For seconds she wasn’t able to recognize me as in these years, I had gone from a Hrithik Roshan (Hair wise) to a Anupam Kher. She was taken aback…the moment she realized…or I should say…she recognized me. Fighting hard with her emotions and trying to resist her tears…she finally gave in…and gave me the warmest hug ever. Time did not have any effect on her eyes…on her cheeks…on her hair…on her fragrance…on her smile…even on her mallu accent…every thing was just the same. For me… time simply stood still…
After catching up with some college ‘gupshup’ and what she was up to these days…she immediately remembered that she hasn’t served me anything. She forced me to have lunch and then go back. She even tempted me by saying that she was going to prepare my favorite malabari chicken curry, which she always got for me during college days. I questioned her, ‘How come the recipe for this is not on your blog?’ ‘It’s a secret recipe which has been passed on for generations in our family’, she replied. I pleaded her to share it with me…and to my surprise she agreed today. She gave me two tomatoes of average sizes and told me that to get that perfect taste one needs to put two tomatoes of these sizes.
The moment I took the bite…the years started rolling back…tears started finding their way from my eyes to cheeks and to the plate. I confessed why I was there…and what I felt for her over the years with utmost honesty. She simply smiled through her moist eyes and said I knew this all along…but I guess it’s too late. Her eyes guided me to her marriage portrait on the wall at the bottom of which was inscribed, ‘who needs a prince charming when I am already married to a soldier’. I looked back at her…couldn’t swallow any more bite…the lump in my throat was eating me from inside. I was trying desperately hard to hide behind a teary smile…my stupidity…of not noticing that portrait the moment I entered that room. I was too mesmerized to be in her presence that for a moment forgot a world still existed outside this room.
She moved close to me…way too close…held my face in her hands…trying to wipe off the salt water at the same time. She said ‘Hold me…close to you’. She leant forward…our tears met…our eyes met…our lips met…and we met. She shattered me back to reality…before my hands could ignite anything in her, by saying, ‘I am a loyal wife’. My already broken pieces of heart were now further broken…
Life again made a mockery of me…Destiny again was laughing at me…God again was playing with me…and the joker again was smiling through me…
Every night just wanted to sit next to her…be invisible (if given a special power) and see her type the chats…see her expressions…see her big eyes move more than her lips…remove those strands of hair which disturbed her while she worked…listen to her endless talks in her childish malabari accent…sleep with her head on my chest. The next mornings prepare for her, her favorite coffee before she gets up…give her a forehead kiss before I leave for work everyday…and simply be a part, however small it may be, of her life for the rest of my lifetime.
Today when I miss her…I pour myself endless pegs while I m cooking the same Malabari chicken curry with two tomatoes. Read her blogs…look at her graceful saree pics…her eyes…her smile…her hair…mixing the salt on my cheeks with the bitterness in my mouth…till I the time I start seeing her…and…simply go numb.
For all those who love to dance,
For all those who love tomatoes,
For all those who love Malabari chicken curry,
For all those whose love is still hidden in them,
For all those who have confessed it to their love,
For all those who still go numb…
Its not a GoodBye…
But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han…this one is purely fictional ;)
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul