She was greeted with a courteous wide smile by the old Parsi man (the owner) behind the high teak-wood counter and by the pleasant aroma sizzling its way out of the kitchen of the Irani restaurant, situated athwart the lake, she responded with a subdued smile to eagerly route her eyes on the counter which was edged on top with huge opaque glass jars stored with freshly baked biscuits – cheese khari biscuits , coconut jam and milk biscuits, tutti-frutti biscuits, shrewsbury biscuits and so on … and behind the glass exterior of the counter were large brass trays stacked with cakes – mawa cakes, walnut cakes, plum cakes .. hmmm … it was a mouth-watering sight for her.
She placed her huge art equipment bag beneath the dusky black teak-wood table which was topped by red and white chequered table cloth and a small circular ceramic off-white vase with fresh red, yellow, white and pink tulips along with their hugging green leaves at the centre, and relaxed on the black bentwood chair under the gentle breeze of the rusty fan hanging from the high ceiling of the old-world charm restaurant
“Haven’t we met before?” – She shuddered at the sudden exultant virile probe as she munched the first bite of her favourite maska bun to give an annoyed fleeting look. He paused for a while so she could easily relish the bite before stating, “Hey, I am Sam … in case if you don’t recognise me”. She looked at him again, sipping the elaichi-laden Irani chai, and they were drawn in an unexpected moment of silence.
“Hi, I am Sera … Have we met before?”, she replied looking at the man, casually but appealingly attired in dark candy apple red sleeveless tee and ripped Prussian blue denim shorts paired with black slippers , with a perplexed expression to take another sip of the Irani chai. “I had purchased a painting from you, a month ago at the Mahavir Art Exhibition Centre, Remember”, he responded staring as though he was annoyed on not being recognized.
“You had purchased the painting titled … The Kiss “, she replied with a thoughtful glance. “Yes, so good of you to remember me, I placed that painting in my bedroom facing the bed”, he said in a sharp impish tone, which made her giggle and he wickedly seized the moment to sit on the chair next to her.
He ordered for paani kam chai and mutton samosas as he eased himself and enquired trying to sound casual, “Do you frequent this place every often?” “No, only on weekends, near the lake, I find the calm environment every soothing to paint; this place resembles an oasis in middle of a desert”. He keenly observed her greedily savouring scoops of bread pudding, as he hungrily finished eating the plateful of mutton samosas.
“May I drop you home, my car is parked nearby”, he politely asked her. “Thank you, I’ll prefer to take a bus from here; the bus-stop is just adjacent to this restaurant”. He quietly accompanied her to the bus-stop so that they could spend some more time together; her company made him exceptionally happy which he had realised from the very first day he had met her, but regrettably the bus arrived as soon as they reached the spot. He drove his car behind the bus as they fondly observed the other through the confines of their vehicles and then at the crossroads he changed the path and waved her bye.
The next Saturday morning, he was at the rim of the slender concrete path towards the lake. He saw her stepping out from the bus, she looked amazing dressed in a turquoise tank top with grey skinny jeans paired with black canvas shoes but he was more attracted at the carefree attitude of her holding the heavy art equipment bag. She pleasantly smiled at him as she was walking from the bus-stop; he was alluringly attired in white tee and blue denim jeans. “Won’t you waste your time at the lake, I won’t be able to talk to you coz I’ll be busy painting”, she stated. He understandably remarked, “No, I will just sit on the bench and watch you paint”, and they agreeably walked together towards the bank of the lake.
He silently watched her while painting, her enthusiasm towards her work charmed him, he observed her hair gently swaying in the breeze, her curved body floating like a wave vertically to the ground which was exposed with grey gravels adorned with little pieces of dry twigs and dry lemon yellow small leaves which generously floated from the tree towards the ground. The flash of his camera disturbed her for a second and knowingly she ignored his fascination towards her.
On the way back he asked, “ Would you like to have lunch with me in my home , I have ordered for Irani specialties … Berry Pulao, a layer of rice over chicken topped with Iranian berries … Akuri, a spicy scrambled egg preparation … Ghormeh sabzi, a Persian herb stew with meat and veggies and cherry cream custard and Raspberry soda”. She heard his narration with amusement and meaningfully looked at him to say,“ I would like to.”
“Where is the painting?” she asked relaxing on the chesterfield in his home. “Come”, he said eagerly leading her towards the bedroom, “Here is the painting!” he pointed his finger towards the wall to secretly gaze her from her head to her toes as she examined the painting. She felt his gaze and looked at him – to get magnetically drawn towards the other. They kissed to submerge in each other’s arms – the doorbell rang and he said with a slight smile, “I’ll get it”. Setting up the lunch he said, “So, what would you like to eat?”