The Other Sex: Ka

Fiction, The Other Sex

I was posted in Karimganj and at first, I had no problem joining there. Karimganj is located along the Indo-Bangladesh border in southern Assam and this was my first experience of living so close to the border. I had no idea about the place, except that Mou’s ancestor were settled here. Mou was my next door neighbour when we were kids. It was very difficult in the beginning and only a few of my office colleagues could speak Assamese fluently and most of them either used Sylheti ( a dialect of Bengali) or a mix of Assamese and Bengali. I knew a little bit of Bengali so could understand Bengali but Sylheti sometimes became incomprehensible to me. I decided to speak Bengali as much as I could so that I become fluent in Bengali first and then proceed to learn Sylheti so that I can communicate with the local public.

It was a sub-urb and had practically no place to hangout after work. I had rented a place just 200 metres from office, so walking from office to home would hardly take 5 mins even if I stopped for a puff on my way. I had large amount of time to spare. So, I just spent my time reading books. Thankfully, I had internet connection to order books online. Like all people who like to read, I was also a lazy person and doing anything except reading books was too much effort for me before I came to Karimganj. I could not read books all day, I had to do something other than that. At times, I used to go out with my office colleagues at the only restaurant in the town that served a couple of so-so kind of chicken recipes. At other times, I just counted the minutes convert into hours and hours convert into days. People basically lived there a boring lives and someday they died, or rather ceased to breathe.

I hated this place.

I loved eating out and before coming here, a major part of my income went into that. I decided to learn cooking various dishes that I enjoyed eating or fancied to eat someday. I browsed the internet and downloaded various recipes and started making a list of things that I need to have in my kitchen apart from the ingredient lists. I also grouped the recipes that needed similar ingredients.

I got the things like utensils in the local market where you would find a lot of made in Bangladesh items. There was a co-operative departmental store in Karimganj and I grabbed whatever ingredients I could find from my list. The departmental store was close to 50 years old and it was a regular co-operative store till few days back running at loss. The new Chairman of the co-operative committee took the lead to convert it into a departmental store where they kept a variety of items to sell converting it into a profit making store.

As I was browsing the shelves of the departmental store I suddenly met Ka.

“Seems like there is a party at your place today!” She said looking at shopping basket.

“Uhhh! Just decided to eat something different today.” I replied.

I first met Ka when she came to our office regarding data for some survey she was doing for the NGO she was working for. Being the Data Analyst, she was referred to me and I provided her the data. She was an average looking girl with a round face and a dark complexion. She had dark and beautiful large eyes that had a certain kind of appeal and never failed to attract me towards her. In top of that, she used to apply kajal that used to accentuate the lethality of her eyes. The fact that she was a plus sized girl never bothered me.

I finished my shopping, paid my bills and while coming out of the store I asked if she would like to join me next day for lunch at my place. It was a dangerous thing to ask a girl to visit a bachelor boy’s room but it was a risk worth taking.

“Let me see!” She replied.

“You can bring along your friends if you want.” I said, trying to push my luck.

“Okay! I will let you know in the evening if I can find someone to come with me.”

“You have my number right?”

“Yes. By the way, what are you serving us?”

“Well, that’s a surprise. I don’t even know if you guys would like it but I can survive solely on that dish for months. That’s for sure.”

“All the best and may God save us.” She smiled as she said this.

After that, we parted to leave for our respective homes. While returning home, I was thinking about her last statement. I was just hoping that it meant that she was coming.

At 7 pm, I got a call from her confirming her visit next day. She also said that none of her friends were free so she will be bringing along her aunt with her. This let me down for a moment. Then she said, “Don’t worry! She is only 1 month older than me” and gave a cunning laugh.

“I will start cooking from 11 am and will be done by 1 pm.” I waited for a while, took a deep breath and continued, “You can either join me from 11 or 1. Your choice!”

“Okay! See you tomorrow then.” She said enthusiastically and disconnected.

I had decided to prepare Gosht Shahi Korma so I woke up next day early morning and bought some mutton. Being a Muslim dominant area, halal cut mutton could easily be found in Karimganj. On my way back, I bought some yogurt, fresh onions and coriander. Since, kewda water was not to be found anywhere in Karimganj, I got some rose water. As soon as I got home, I marinated the mutton with spices, yogurt mixture and rose water and  kept it under refrigeration. After that, I went for a bath. I changed by bed-sheets and organized my desk.

At around 12 noon, Ka and her “aunt” arrived. She had conspicuously dressed to torment me. She had a different hairstyle than when last time we met. In our earlier meetings, she used to have a schoolgirl braid but today she had tied a tight bun and a couple of curls were falling at her face. She was wearing a body fit high neck sweater and jeans. I had a feeling that she was not wearing anything inside the sweater. She was clearly seducing me and I was shamelessly looking at her with lustful eyes. In our earlier two meetings, I could see only her eyes but today the only thing I could see were her boobs. I came out of my dreams when Ka introduced her aunt Paulomi. I was kind of embarrassed.

I had just taken out the marinated mutton out of the refrigerator and was chopping the onions at the time they arrived.  To avoid eye contact, I went to the kitchen and switched on the stove. While the oil was heating in the pressure cooker, I asked Ka about her name.

“I am the first child of my parents and hence they named me Ka as it is the first consonant in Bengali. It also signifies someone who leads bravely from the front.” She said with a certain pride.

“Interesting!” I replied while frying the onions.

After frying the onions and mutton for a while I added water and closed the pressure cooker lid. While the mutton was cooking, I sat in the dining table with them.

“So, what are you making?” She asked.

“It’s something inspired by Gosht Korma.” I replied.

“So are you serving it with rice or rotis?” She asked, but before I could say anything she said worryingly, “Whatever it is, that will take time.”

“Don’t worry! I will get the rotis from Baba‘s shop. We will get it after the Korma is ready.”

It’s very difficult to get it right while making Korma unless you are a professional chef but it turned out perfectly like I wanted. The mutton was soft, the aroma perfect and the taste could only beaten if it were made in clay oven and earthen pots. I garnished it with cinnamon and fresh coriander and served it with rotis that I had just bought from Baba’s shop which is located just down the gully.

We thoroughly enjoyed eating the food. I was enjoying more since I was also having my fantasies regarding Ka in addition to the perfect outcome of my cooking attempts.

“Since there are no good restaurants here, we just meetup, cook and eat.” Ka’s aunt said while eating, “So, it was not a tough decision to visit you.”

“Ummmm! The food is awesome. ” Ka said.

“You cook really good and passed the test with good grades. So, would you like to join our group? We meet every Sunday. No joining fees, just a passion to eat and an ability to cook.”

That was a huge blow below the belt, literally. I heard something break.

“I will try to attend this feasting sessions with all sincerity but I might miss a few as my job has no fixed hours of working.” I replied as diplomatically as possible.

The Other Sex: Aanvi

Fiction, The Other Sex

I met Aanvi at a get together party we were having. It was an open to all party; everyone was free to invite anyone. She came on an invite from a friend’s friend and also brought along another girlfriend of hers. She knew about me through a few common friends, but I had never heard of her.  It sounds funny, now that I think of it in retrospect but it was quite okay at that time. Perhaps, it was our destiny to meet.

She was not the type of girl, you would exactly call beautiful, but there was something in her that made her very attractive. While the rest of us were having a great time making even the bartender nervous with our drinking, she sat listening to all of us silently with her first drink still in hand. Her fingers were fiddling around the rim of her glass of whisky. I was on my third drink and Rienna who was sitting next to me was saying something, that I can’t recollect. Anyway, nobody remembers what Rienna says. She talks so much that it is beyond the capacity of an ordinary man to be sane if he does not switch off his brains while she is talking and simply respond once in a while so that she does not feel bad. In the midst of all the noise my eyes were constantly seeking Aanvi instead. She was wearing black jeans and a white high neck sweater. She wore a nice smile too that was attracting me towards her. Or perhaps, it was the whiskey that was having its effect on me. I was reminded of a song by an Australian contemporary rock band, Arrows – She wore a Cabernet Smile – because of her dark smiling lips. I smiled at the thought.

Aanvi was slightly on the darker side, her face a plain one without any make-up – not even a lipstick. She had long, straight hair and her eyes had something that I found very appealing. I had always liked the kind of girls that most don’t find beautiful. Probably I enjoyed the exclusivity that I felt with them. The so-called beautiful girls never turned me on.

 I wanted to talk with her but did not have the courage to do so. She had a no nonsense look in her eyes, that nobody dared to make a pass at her or make advances easily. Yet I felt she probably did not like to stand out of the crowd.

The next time I met her was quite by accident. I was walking one evening when I saw a new café that had opened in our town. It was brightly decorated in a contemporary fashion and I wondered why I didn’t noticed it earlier although I have been in that area quite recently. It was a windy day and a coffee was a nice idea. I went inside it and as I opened the door, I saw her. Coincidentally, she was also looking towards the entrance and she waved at me. So, I went to her table and asked if I can sit with her and she said, “Oh! That will be great. I was just looking for a company.” I was suddenly blushing, the reason I still can’t fathom to this date.

I ordered for two cups of coffee and I was wondering how to start a conversation. I looked at the brightly coloured walls. Some kind of an abstract painting was hung up. The decoration inside the café was minimal and it lent a classy feel to the whole ambiance. The lighting inside was creatively designed, the fixtures almost hidden and there was a certain calmness from the lights that accentuated the chic and charm of the brightly coloured walls. The owner seemed to be an ardent fan of arts. The waiter got us the coffee in two bright coloured cups. They also provided us handmade spoons and a sugar bowl which seemed handmade too. Though I liked the place very much I was still feeling awkward and was at a loss for words. She probably sensed it and broke the “awkward” silence by asking me about the book I was carrying. She told me that she liked to visit this place and that it was a kind of platform for art lovers. She also told me that the painting on the wall I was looking at was an Expressionist one. I could see that there was something very emotional in the painting. Anyone could tell that the artist was very talented, as the artist had hardly touched the canvas with his brush and yet the intensity of feelings was very strong. I told her about it. After that, words flowed like water flows from the mountains to the streams and from streams to the river and from the river to the sea. I don’t remember a single piece of that conversation but I do remember ordering several cups of coffee. We left only when it was time to close down for the café. I paid the bill and came to know that she lived nearby. I walked her home as it was too late for a girl to walk alone in the streets. More than that, I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could.

When we reached her place, I thanked her for the wonderful evening I had with her and left.It was only when I was walking back home, I realized that she was completely a different person than the one I met in that party. I was very comfortable with her and she was unlike any girl that I had met in my life. She never said that she was getting late for home, she allowed me to walk her home. There was a certain confidence in her that said a lot about her immensely good upbringing. The more I thought about her, the more I was attracted to her. I wanted to know everything about her. More than that, I was getting interested in arts which was very strange.