Do you believe in love at first sight?
You know what I’m talking about, when you see him and you get butterflies in your tummy. Blood rushes through your cheeks and you stand mesmerized, wondering where he had been all your life. You finally feel complete. And know that he fits into your life like that one last piece of jigsaw that finally makes into you a full meaningful picture.
Yea, that roller coaster of emotions you feel when the accidentally look at you and then smile?
Gosh, I remember when that happened.
It was two minutes ago in the living room, on the event of meeting my future life partner. (Yes, you read that right and it is what you think it is. It was one of those let’s-make-the-boy-and-the-girl-meet episode of an arranged marriage.)
Amar. That handsome hunk with that attractive British accent.
But he will never be mine. This love story would have to end just as soon as it began. Seven hours ago, I was just a happy hipster who loved to pick arguments with her mother for nothing and anything. My life was simple. I was a tom boy who dressed in t-shirts and cargo pants and pretended to be a rapper.
Now, I’m a smitten twenty one year old girl, with neatly straightened hair and a bright ethnic suit, lying in a pool of blood. It’s all so complicated now.
Lol, I was just kidding. It’s not blood, its tomato sauce. Or at least what I thought would turn out to be tomato sauce. You thought this was going to be a thriller crime story, I’m sorry to have you disappointed. The life of a love-smitten hipster isn’t that cool. (Although I wish it was.)
So let me tell you how all of this began.
My mother never understands.
I’m a morning person and I like waking up to a 90’s Rahman rap rather than the muted chimes of chirping birds or sound of her pressure cooker whistling. You know, I‘m twenty years old and I still get my adrenaline rushing every time I wake up to a whistling pressure cooker. I subconsciously fear that a train just ran into the house.
Accordingly this morning, I woke up to the loud sound of music and I was dancing my way out of bed like a professional rapper when she pushed the door open.
‘Oye Sybill!!’ She yelled as she walked into the room. ‘Is this a residential place or a club house?’
I gulped. I was in the middle of doing a complex twirl that I slipped and twisted my ankle.
‘Mom!’ I was frustrated I had hurt myself so early in the morning. ‘Why can’t you knock?’
‘Huh? What on earth are you doing?’
‘Mom! I’m trying to turn on my swag. And now look, I twisted my ankle!’
‘You…what? Ohh…Okay…look now she is turning her swag on! While there are lots of other things to turn on, all that she cares about is her stupid swag!’
‘Oh my God…you always do this to me!’
‘Can’t you turn on the food, or even the water on the stove, but you have stupid shhhwaggg to turn on? Total Nonsense.’
‘Arrrrghhhh’ I groaned
‘Now get rid of all this boy scout pants and wear a proper dress like a proper girl! You are getting old and you need to get married! Someone is coming to meet you today evening.’
I knew it was going to be a bad day. I clenched my fists and frowned.
‘No. No. No.’ I cried. ‘There is nothing you can say or do to make me meet this guy.’
Seven hours later however, I was standing in front of a bunch of strangers, all dolled up and in a bright ethnic suit, faking a smile.
That was when I saw him. It was like a dream.
Amar was everything I had dreamt a guy should be like. He was honey coloured, tall and had a glowing smile pasted up his face.
This is just too good to be true. I thought as I looked away and tried to be casual but my heart was racing.
‘Hi, Sybill. It’s nice to meet you.’ He said in a thick British accent. And that was the end of it. I officially fell.
‘You like him?’ My sister muttered into my ear.
‘Umm…’ I was absolutely speechless. I was too transfixed at how his light brown eyes contrasted his dark bouncy hair.
‘Are you kidding me? He looks like Siva Karthikeyan and sounds like Tom Felton. Just one of that would have sufficed to flatter me and this guy is a combination of both. I’m just hoping all of this isn’t a dream’
She laughed softly.
‘Sybill ammu, why don’t you make something to eat?’ I glared at my mother as she said that. Not only was she spoiling a beautiful love at first sight moment but also pushing me into my domain of embarrassment. The kitchen.
Once inside, I became frenetic, I have never been into this part of the house earlier. God knows rappers can’t cook! I grabbed a few onions, tomatoes ginger and vinegar. I chopped them into messy chunks, crying, and then threw them into the blender and blended them. In the mean time, I tried making a few chappatis.
At first, the dough became too soggy. I added a little more flour, hoping to make it dry. Now it was too dry, I added a little water and it was soggy again. This continued until I had used up all the four and the dough now looked like chewed up bubble gum.
I knew that it was not supposed to look like that. I stomped my feet, accidentally slipped over a puddle of oil, and crashed on the floor, later to be joined by the bowl of tomato puree I had placed on the edge of the counter.
And that is the story of how I went from a happy rapper with the best swag in town to a well dressed girl lying in a pool of sour red sauce that tasted like concentrated sulphuric acid.
My eyes welled up. I started crying.
‘I can’t do this anymore!’ I wept. ‘I need help.’
I hear a pop. I turned around, still lying on the floor and what I saw shocked me.
A stout and tall middle aged man, in stylish designer wear and French beard was standing over the counter, with a smile. It was not just an ordinary smile. It was a divine I-know-it-all smile.
‘And who on Earth are you?’
‘I’m a Genie’ he said helping me up.
‘I don’t remember rubbing a lamp.’ I said eyeing him suspiciously after finding my balance and standing up steadily.
‘Yeah…The international Council of Genies decided on making an exception for certain hopeless cases.’
I was offended. But he was right. I couldn’t blame his judgement for he had just helped me out of a pool of tomato sauce that I hadn’t help myself out of.
‘Why are you here?’ I asked the genie.
‘I’m here to grant you a wish…Go ahead…Make a wish.’
‘Amar.’ I said even before he finished the sentence.
Then i rephrased my wish. ‘I want to cook a spectacular dish for dinner tonight.’
‘Wish granted’ he said as he smiled and winked at me.
And with that wink, the kitchen was sparkling clean again and my dress was magically back to its shiny self. I breathed out thankfully. The genie got to work. I danced around the kitchen while he started making a sizzling hot gourmet dish.
Everything was going perfectly until my sister walked in without a warning. I was shocked. But when I turned around, the genie was missing. In his place, lay a mat, that I figured must have been his disguise. She did not notice the new piece of rug, though. She had come in to get a glass of water. And once she did, she walked out of the kitchen and asking me to hurry up.
I sat on the mat nervously, pretending to be picking up a rebel lemon that had run away from the counter, hoping she would not notice it. She didn’t, and once she walked away I hear a suffocated voice.
‘Please. Get Of. Me. I can’t breathe.’
It was the genie. He was back to his human form and I was sitting over him. I stood up, completely embarrassed.
‘Never mind’ he said as he continued running about the kitchen. I was skipping happily, dreaming about Amar and his light eyes. Slowly the tangy scent of spices filled the room and I knew the genie was working his magic.
‘And we’re done!’ The genie laid a huge bowl on the table. ‘Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani made from the best spices from all over the world, and the most flavourful rice you will ever have tasted.’
Even without that explanation from him, I could say that it was an exotic expert dish. I knew Amar would fall in love with it. Then maybe later, with me. I couldn’t control my excitement. I was jumping up and down and finally gave the Genie a huge hug.
‘Thank you so much! You know I think it is very nice of The international Council of Genies to offer free services.’
‘Just doing my duty.’ He said with a humble coming up his face. ‘But you gotta watch out for the genies of Arabian nationality, though. Those nasty brats claim on doing a favour while all that they would do is make a joke at your expense.’
‘Oh, that’s scary. I didn’t know there were bad genies.’
‘No, not bad.’ He explained as he made a final touch to the dish. ‘They are just naughty and like cracking practical pranks with human. You need to watch out for those folks.’
‘I just can’t imagine why I would need to call another genie. Once I have Amar, I would have everything!’
‘Well….you can never know….Go set the table…You have got a prince charming to impress, remember? ’
I nodded with a huge grin. I set the table and walked back to the living room gracefully.
‘Diner is ready!’
Amar’s mother walked up to the table first. She gave me a pat on the back and a few seconds later, the rest of the family joined us. I placed the table and just when I was able to scoop in the rice, she asked me a question.
‘What is this dish, dear?’
‘Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani made from the best spices from all over the world, and the most flavourful rice you will ever have tasted.’ I said echoing the genie’s explanation.
‘But darling, did we ever tell you?’ she asked in a worried tone. ‘Amar is a Vegeterian.’
My heart broke. I turned back to take a look at the kitchen.
The Genie shrugged his shoulders, turned around and vanished.