Posted in Short Story

Coleridge

“I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop,” Coleridge thought, as he lay on the grass, with his head turned skywards. There was nobody to disturb him now. At any moment, the sun would flare up in full glory. And then, he could contemplate his next move for the day, as he lay basking in its warmth. There was quite some daily excitement ahead, until the yellow ball slowly drifted away. Then the humans would start filling up the kennel again.

The humans had shown up earlier in the day. The human with the flowered scent had given him his morning meal. The taller one had patted his head and accompanied him for a walk. The tiny one, Coleridge thought, needed the most help. He kept dropping the ball. EVERY SINGLE TIME. But he was around Coleridge most of the time, rolling in the grass and playing in the pool with him. So picking up the ball for him didn’t feel like much of work. After all, what are friends for?

Most mornings were like this. Then the tiny human would leave in a big moving kennel. The kennel had more tiny humans in it. They always acknowledged Coly with loud cheer. Coly would cheer back, until the kennel disappeared from sight. The bigger humans then left in a smaller kennel which moved. Coleridge thought that was strange. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?

Coleridge enjoyed his occasional trips in the moving kennel. The human would ask him to sit still, but Coly made it a point to put his head out of the window to feel the wind as the kennel moved. At times, they would stop in a park and meet more people and play. Everyone he met had something to tell him. But some small people pulled at his tail. Coly thought his humans were the best.

At times, they would go to the beach, and Coly had to fetch a plate instead of a ball for the little human. Wonder how mommy filled so much water in that pool?! On one particularly terrifying type of ride, the moving kennel would slide down a slope and stop at a smelly place. There were many people just like him out there. Some looked ill, and some had a broken leg or head. Someone strapped Coleridge to a chair and poked him with a needle now and then. Mommy always put pills in his treats after that. Sylvia and Lizzy also had a similar complaint about going to this place.

The thing about boarding the moving kennel was that he could never say how the journey would be. Some rides were fun and some rides were not. But they always ended up home after each ride.

The other humans called mommy as Martha or darling at times – just how all the humans called him different names at different times – Coleridge, Coly, Good Boy, Dumbo. The tiny human was called Samy. At times, the big human was also called darling. This meant two humans could have the same name!  However, when Coly called out to Martha or Samy, they never seemed to understand who was being addressed.

Sylvia was sitting on the lawn across the fence, demure, with her fur shining in the summer sun. Coleridge and Sylvia had been pals for a long, long time now. She was his perfect partner in crime. Coleridge could not say the same about fuzzy Lizzy. Lizzy was just so proud and full of herself. She made it look like it was a privilege to have her around. And there was no trusting her. She could drink all the milk that the human gave her and still crave for more. But having Lizzy around had its advantages. She knew how to make her way through to the cupboards in the kitchen. She did something like climbing up the water pipe and reaching the balcony. Lizzy also knew how to wriggle and dance and all the humans cheered her when she did that.

One day, when Coly and his humans returned from the beach, there was this yummy smell from across the lane. Samy was very excited. He went through this kennel’s door, when the huge human held Coleridge by the leash. He then returned with a hot aromatic box and carried it home. This started happening often. Coleridge got to taste the contents of this fine looking box once in a while. The taste lingered on for so long and kept him full. Lizzy and Sylvia also loved this treat. In fact, they had all come to expect a slice of it whenever water poured from above them. This made the absence of yellow ball less depressing.

Dealing with a wet coat was no fun. It had a bad effect on the nose. Whenever it poured, the humans would lock Coly and co. inside their big kennel. Coly had to spend all day on a rug. All he could do was watch everyone walk up and down at different speeds. His favourite part of the house was this funny box in which he could see clothes spiraling round and round. It was so relaxing to watch. He also loved to laugh along with Samy as his squishy toys paraded on TV. The box also played music. At times the box also showed people like him. But they never acknowledged his presence or spoke to him. The humans would laugh and pat his head. He felt sorry for himself.

Samy and Kate, who lived with Sylvia, loved to climb over the wall and cheer the garbage truck. Coleridge and Sylvia would shout along with their humans. The wall was not there before. It only came after a very thin human and a bulky human knocked the gate a few days ago. Coleridge remembered the bulky human very well. He really smelt absurd. For the time he was around, Coleridge and Sylvia got extra lunch and pats on their head. In return, the two would follow him on his round trips between the wall and the inedible powder and rock he carried. It was a welcome change from the routine of chasing squirrels and birds about the garden.

Then suddenly one day, the two humans stopped coming. Only then did the three friends realize they could no longer get across the street. The fence post was not to be seen anywhere. In a couple of days, the three friends had lost that tiny window to the busy world outside. The gap in the fence was their secret passage. It took them to the food truck and to the street gangs. They had fallen prey to the temptation of the exotic.

It had begun on the day the humans boarded the small moving kennel and went out, leaving Coly behind. Sylvia’s humans were also away. Martha had watered Coly’s trough. Lizzy climbed over the flower pots and perched herself on the fence post as usual. Coly and Sylvia loved to see her dancing and commenting about the happenings outside. Right then, the familiar aroma spread from across the street. In one leap, Lizzy was gone. That was the problem with Lizzy. One could never predict what she would do next. Sylvia and Coly followed Lizzy’s footsteps and tried to step over the flower pots and reach the fence. Later, when the enquiries happened, they did not know who broke which flower pot or how the shells of the broken pots ended up in the swimming pool. Within moments, the fence post crashed and Sylvia and Coly found themselves on the pavement. They dashed across the road, chasing  Lizzy and the aromatic smell of pizza. The motorist passing by jerked to a halt and scared the cyclist. He lost his balance and drove straight into the food truck. None of this, however, halted the threesome’s pace.

With no idea of the chaos they had created, the three stood at the door of the pizza house. Lizzy wriggled her way to the window and peeked inside. This scared the baker, who came out and found the three of them, eagerly looking at his hands. He recognized Coly by the red collar, but was surprised that there was nobody to accompany him. In a few minutes, he came back and offered them their hard earned treat. As they slowly made their way towards the meeting point of the gangsters, Samy’s big human called out to Samy from somewhere. Torn between the street mission and the loving voice calling out, Samy returned home. All this seemed so long ago now.

Samy could hardly remember how pizza tasted now. His gang would call out to him from the other side of the wall, but Lizzy had not yet found the right way to go over the wall. And therein, lay unaccomplished missions and inviting aromas, all in need of the right escape route. Until such time, all Samy and Sylvia had was vivid memories of past adventures and a view of the world as depicted by Lizzy.

“Coleridge” first published by Nithya Rajagopal in Ink Spear Inc in June 2018, on her personal blog site.

 

Posted in Humor, Short Story

Abhi and the Uthappam saga

If you are under the assumption that a 21-year old Tamil girl should know her Dosai and Uthappam, Abhinaya is here to set the table right. Irrelevance and Exuberance are the twin engines that Abhi runs on. ” Irrelevance?”, you may wonder. What else can you call it when the reason for someone’s action is not the most logical and obvious one that can be?

When Abhinaya is not busy working in NewGen SoftTech Inc, she is busy learning to play the Veena or to speak German. It may be a good idea to take a step back and understand that the key selling point for the job was the cafeteria and a very good looking college senior, who doubled as her boss. The Payroll department could very well skip a month’s pay and Abhi would hardly even know.

How did the universe sell Veena to Abhi, you may ask ? Well, Veena and German went hand in hand in the war for abstinence from the kitchen. Abhi was quite passionate about the causes she fought for. The dusky beauty had excellent foresight and could sense trouble brewing at a distance. So when her sister was engaged a couple of years ago, she had nightmares of loneliness What else but music to cure the poor, frightened soul? (An enlightened reader will know that she saw herself stirring pots in the kitchen, assisting mom and that gave her many restless nights about her sister’s wedding)

But then one day, the inevitable happened. Amma had to attend a wedding and would be away for 3 days , leaving dad and daughter alone! “Abhi, you have batter in the fridge. You can make dosai or uthappam. Please don’t do takeaways early in the morning and spoil appa’s health. The batter is fresh, stir it well and make your breakfast please. And look up the internet for sambar and chutney recipes. You need to graduate beyond Maggi and Curd rice “, amma warned. There! Boom! Dad was hiding his face behind the newspaper. He knew his daughter, and he laughed mischievously.

So the next morning, appa found his little princess holding out a bent ladle , standing in a sea of creamy white, fermented batter. He took out a wooden spoon and offered to stir it, while she changed to cleaner, batter-free clothing. “May be if I sincerely try and botch the next two steps, appa will be able to serve us Uthappam”, she thought.

“Kanna, can you sit in the dining hall and chop vegetables ? I will scrap some coconut for the chutney”, he told her. “But appaaa! I want to make everythinggggg!” , she feigned.  “Let us share the load da”, he told her, chuckling. Sometimes genes speaketh more than the tongue.  How else can one explain his visits to the kitchen, which more or less coincided with the release of a Rajnikanth movie?

In the next one hour, appa had the cooker in place for the sambar and the chutney ground and ready to go. Now that the bigger duty was sorted out, it was time to pull Abhi’s leg a bit. “Let me go bathe now. I will have piping hot Uthappam , served by my DEAR daughter , when I am back”, he told her. “I need thin Uthappams with extra onions and green chilli. Just remember, pizza style, ok? “, and he grinned his way to his room. “If you get this right, we have pizza for dinner”, he told her. “Make sure the pan is really hot when you start kanna”, and then she heard the sound of the bathroom’s door creaking.

Abhi put the iron kal on the gas stove. After a few minutes, she splashed some water to check if the water sputtered. And with no further ado, she poured the batter on it and began making a galaxy. My sweet dad, she thought, he deserves the best! And she went on stretching the dosa until the end of the tawa.  As the satellite reached the outer boundaries of the galaxy, a small back hole appeared out of nowhere. Just a little correction, she thought, and tried to cover up the hole by borrowing from the surroundings. The hole only got bigger and bigger, dragging along the batter from around it, until it resembled a tennikoit ring.  This first mission had to be aborted now. She tried to scrap the whole thing off , but the batter at the edges wouldn’t budge.  She took a handful of water and splashed it on the iron kal. The kitchen closely resembled the site of a tear gas attack against violent protesters.

She quickly switched on the chimney and opened the windows,  and prepared herself for round 2 in the meanwhile. She opened Google and looked for ‘Why does Dosai stick to the pan?”

One reason looked plausible – Batter too thick. She quickly took some batter in a smaller bowl and poured a glass of water into it. With renewed energy, she resumed. As she poured the batter over the dosai kal, it began flowing and accumulating at the center and then slowly boiling. When the dosai presented itself like a stray idli, Abhi dragged the kal and washed it in the sink.

When round 3 began, her father was looking over her shoulder, suppressing his urge to burst into laughter. The ipad on the kitchen counter and the open windows were enough to tell him the story. “What kanna! Uthappam enga? Don’t tell me you are done with your breakfast without me!” , he quipped.  Abhi turned around to see him holding his belly and laughing.

“I am sure your stomach is full now. Do you really want breakfast pa?”, she asked. “Ok, let us do this”, he said. “I will make the base, you add the topping and bring it over to the table. Does that sound ok?” Abhi gleamed. “Appa. Promise! I will make the best Uthappam tomorrow!”.

Appa demonstrated the entire process now, bragging about King Nala and how men make brilliant cooks. Abhi watched enthralled, as the galaxy formed on the kal, without a black hole. Appa then clapped his hands, snapped his fingers and went to the dining hall, asking Abhi to bring the Uthappam to him.
As dad went out, Abhi garnished the Uthappam and then tried to remove it from the pan. The flat ladle went flying out of the kitchen window and Abhi opened the door leading to the yard from the kitchen, and ran to pick it up before the Uthappam burnt. Appa was watching the whole show , thoroughly entertaining himself.

When Abhi , huffing and puffing, served breakfast that day, all appa had to say was, “Hope the reason you go to office knows how to make Dosai! If not, don’t worry. We can sort it out”. Abhi’s eyes almost popped out, as appa winked and went ahead with his breakfast.

#Kitchen #Funny #Comedy

First published by Nithya Rajagopal in her own blog : InkSpear Inc.