Apr 16, 2010
The Christmas Dinner- Food Fiction
Swati entered the kitchen and opened the cabinet on her left. She found nothing meaningful that she could use for her cooking. This is going to be the worst Christmas ever since she got married. She looked out of her kitchen window and saw that it was still snowing. It is snowing since yesterday night. She again looked into her cabinet only to find it empty. The snowfall this time is continuous and all roads to Siliguri are blocked due to a Landslide, leaving this small town with no supply of food and other items.
Swati opened the right cabinet and found a packet of bread. The breads were hard and Swati remembered she had bought them from the local grocer almost three days back. She was going to throw them away but suddenly changed her mind and decided to keep. The phone started ringing in the hall. Swati rushed to pick it up.
“Hello” she said
“Hello” she heard the voice of Deepak. “How are you dear?” asked Deepak.
“I am fine” she replied.
“Why did you not call last night? Don’t you know I get worried if I don’t get your call” Swati said all this almost in one breath.
“Oh god! There is nothing to worry dear. I am absolutely fine. There was no signal in my mobile therefore was unable to call” said Deepak in his usual calm and relaxed tone.
Swati gets anxious if she doesn’t get Deepak’s call. This anxiety is shared by everywoman married to an army man. Deepak understands her worry and tries to call her everyday so that she unnecessarily does not panic, but at times due to unavoidable circumstances he can’t.
Deepak asked “what are you cooking for Christmas tonight?”
Swati dejectedly replied ‘nothing” she added “there is no supply of grocery for last three days due to this wretched landslide, I have no clue of what to cook” she said in a grim voice.
Deepak wanted to cheer her up so he enthusiastically added “but you are a magician in the kitchen dear, I am sure you can cook a storm out of nothing”
Swati laughed at his comment and added in the same grim tone “let me see”
Then she quickly asked “would you be able to join me tonight?”
“No my jaan, how can I come? Who would protect the country?” he said this with a tone of artificial mimicry. Swati laughed. Suddenly she felt very lonely. Deepak hardly spends any occasion with her. Be it her birthday, anniversary, Holi or Diwali. After three years of marriage she has kind of got used to it, but still at certain time she still feels lonely.
Swati went back to the kitchen and started fiddling with the bread packet. She was not feeling like cooking anything. But then she wanted to cook something as it was Christmas and it has been a ritual for her ever since marriage to cook something special for dinner. She considers it auspicious to cook on that day and she believes this very act of cooking brings good luck to her family. For an army man’s wife everyday has to be a lucky day.
She saw the packet of bread again and suddenly remembered that her hen had laid one egg in the morning that she had collected and kept in her refrigerator. She has a pet hen which is now her only supply of eggs. She rushed to her fridge and took out the egg. Then she took the bread packet and made herself busy in the kitchen.
When the doorbell rang it was almost evening. Sun sets quite early in this part. So it was already getting dark. Swati was quite surprised to hear doorbell at this time. In this sleepy town hardly anybody disturbs at this time. Swati thought maybe someone mistakenly rung the bell. She opened the door quite carefully and was pleasantly amused to see the person who rang the bell.
Deepak was standing in front of her in his army uniform. She was so excited that she could hardly utter a word. Deepak flung Swati off her feet and lifted her in his arms. Then he lightly kissed her lips and said “see I am home for Christmas”
Tears came to Swati’s eyes; she was still unable to say a word. Every time when Deepak comes back from his posting Swati feels the same numbness. Every time he comes back it is a victory. And his every return makes Swati thank the god for his survival.
Their humble Christmas dinner had nothing special to eat. Deepak had brought along with him some tin food from his camp; he also brought some fruits and a can of fresh cream which he used to prepare a fruit salad. The only thing that marked their dinner special was the pudding that Swati prepared using those almost hardened bread, butter, one egg that her hen laid, sugar and some flour. It was not just a pudding but it was her expression of love. It was prepared to celebrate not only Christmas but also Deepak’s homecoming from the China border and most importantly their togetherness. This was the most special Christmas that Swati ever spent.
Recipe for Bread Pudding
4-6 bread pieces
½ cup flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup molten butter
Pinch of baking powder
How to prepare
Soak the bread pieces in water for 30 mins
Squeeze the water and crumble the bread pieces
Whisk the egg white until it becomes creamy
Add flour to the egg white
Slowly add the sugar and keep whisking.
Add the molten butter and whisk
Add the crumbled bread pieces
Put the mixture in a blender and blend well
Add baking powder
Pre-heat the oven
Take a baking bowl and grease its base with butter
Put the baking bowl in the oven and bake at 250 degree Celsius for 45 minutes
Decorate it with dry fruits and nuts and serve.
This is my entry to Of Chalks and Chopsticks hosted by Aqua.