We woke that day like children. Like tiny puppies licking sleep away from each other’s eyes. Excited to live, the way Sundays make you. A whole day, stretched out like a canvas. I wanted to paint Sunday with my joy. You felt that way too. In fact your feeling that way about Sundays was one of those things that brought us together.
The sun was in my eyes and you yawned against my neck and mumbled “Brunch?” That word still evokes now, what at age 20 it had just begun to – the promise of an afternoon, the thought of a sweet white wine, laidback glamour, bohemian chic. We were so cool and young then. We showered and made paintings with the suds. Even soap bubbles were made adorable by love.
Behind my rose tinted sunglasses, I watched you put a flower in your buttonhole in jest. Hand in hand, draped in the fashionable safety of white linen, we drove to the restaurant, like lovers pretending the world is Paris. You think I’m so foolish, but Spring in New Delhi lets everyday feel special. Makes it more ‘new’ than ‘Delhi’. I bought white panties with painted cherries on them in the Christmas sales, and now four months later in the heat of April I had donned them under my dress. Think of how much promise the day held, sweetheart…
The restaurant was named for you. Diva. We ordered with the casualness that could have become us, if we were older. We ordered the Sicilian Rice Balls with carrot, orange, lemon zest and parmesan. The music wafted yellow and the day filled with sunny words. “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you,” and in that moment the words seemed true. It was a cover, by that Bangalore band – Allegro Fudge. They’re young and inspired with nimble piano tunes. Ritu Dalmia, chef at hand, likes new bands, new music; fresh sounds go with fresh tastes.
We fed each other off extended forks, “Here try this!” Why? We were eating the same thing. Yet you asked me to try your balls. The parmesan turned me cheesy and I said to you in stilted quotation, “I love you, jaan.” The focaccia had turned you dry, and you nodded back, distracted. “I swam across…I jumped across for you,” I hummed along to the song and thought of how it’s better than the original because it isn’t whiny. The words are whispered, subtly, and the piano makes up the body of sound. I always hated that Yellow song anyway. You loved it so. “You know I loved you so.”
I went on to order the lobster ravioli in butter sauce. I always liked more butter than you. I always wanted more than you, I suppose. I asked for mushrooms on the side because they’re my favourite. They reminded me of my mother’s cooking and I told you so. Memories within memories. The childish faith captured in my mother’s mushrooms at 5, tricked me when I was 20 into believing you cared for me, as you spooned perfect olive oil drenched mouthfuls of them through my lips suggesting you might feed me forever.
What did you eat? Ritu had walked past and viewed your confusion. She said, “Try the beaten lamb chops!” and you did. They came with peppers, balsamic and beetroot goat cheese flan. It was a meal I would never choose and it made me realise again how selfish you were as you shared my ravioli, knowing I could never partake of your peppers. You relished the perfection of the lamb, and then went through my fat pockets of pasta in a jiffy, taking everything I had.
Before we could leave, Ritu sent over two desserts, ‘compliments of the chef’, as her kind heart often does. You took the lemon tart without asking, and said, “God I could marry her for that!” I looked down and saw one of Ritu’s perfect wine glasses had a crack in it. I knew then, as you uttered that, that you would be nothing more than a sad song for me, in a few months. You pushed the second dessert across the table. It was a slice of apple pie with cream. I took a bite. The cream was whipped, as was I.
When we walked out, the song was playing again. The CD had come full circle, and Allegro Fudge sang, “For you… for you I bleed myself dry.”
Karuna Ezara Parikh is a writer based out of Delhi. Her first novel, a love story, will be out with Harper Collins next year.
Ritu Dalmia was born in 1978 and cooks and eats in Delhi.
Allegro Fudge is a Bangalore based band and all its members are < 40.
Hunger and Food are Everyday aspects of our lives. Great loves and great wars have been made over food. When we write stories about food, we're also writing about love. We're writing about need, desire, ephemerality, mortality and our instinctual desire to preserve the impermanent. Which is why we create memories and metaphors.Read More