When I first met Sanskriti, she wore a frilly white dress with yellow trim, finishing with white sandals. I glanced at her nervously as her long, curly hair ran down her delicate nutbrown skin. She had flown down from Qatar to spend the summer with her grandparents and spoke an outlandish accent. I had some sort of infirmity that prevented me from talking to her.
But when she spotted me, she fleetly flitted down the walkway towards me and started telling me something. But I paid no attention and began to take in my surroundings. There was a mid-sized rounded table, six wooden chairs, and one couch had been arranged in two circles around stacks of antique books.
She stopped talking after she had nothing more to say. A little later our parents ended their usual yammering, and we began to usher out the door. I turned around when someone tapped me on my shoulder. Sanskriti stuck around to hand me a bag of bedsheets and some clothes. She came along to spend a day or two with us at my home. I wore a contorted smile, as I watched her sit alongside me in the car.
The day had been draining, waiting to retreat. But my mind raced tirelessly to pick out a cogent cover. The image of sharing my bed, my room with her made my tongue shrivel in my mouth. My mother read my wavering expressions and nudged me to interact. I swiftly pushed her away.
When we arrived back, I complained about a needling headache, big waves of nausea, and a vibrating stomach. My mother looked at me with an eye of suspicion; She handed me out a few pills but I insisted on being left off. As I was about to creep up towards my room and bolt in; She looked at me from the corner of her eye and began unpacking a ton of delicious food. I heard my stomach groan.
I lowered my eyes, and grudged my way back to my room.
The sight of hard-boiled and deviled eggs, with warm wilted greens, mushrooms, and crispy toast, gave me no sleep. Waves of profound hunger seemed to dwindle the jitters of her stylish elocution, and build up an unusual spirit within me.
I headed out towards the kitchen table and sat beside her. I somehow managed to gain the self-assurance needed to walk through the silence between us and said, “Can you pass me the pepper, please?”
She looked at me with her peppy eyes, whilst my mother gave a sly smile. I drowned in my thoughts again, trying to pick out something to say. She leaned across the table to pick the pepper-shaker and turned to me —
“Black pepper is named the King of Spices,” I blurted out.
She raised her brows and bore a startled look. After a pause, she shook her head with a big gummy smile. A cold shudder went through my body as I retracted my silly, off-the-cuff remark. I wrestled with my brains, trying to comprehend her thoughts, her perception towards me. Overwhelmed with fluster, I swayed the pepper-shaker; When she said with a note of amusement —
“Black pepper is as well named the Black Gold.”
My jaw dropped. We both feasted our eyes on the pepper-shaker and shared a quiet giggle.
From there on, that one pepper-shaker turned into a memento of my gawky stripling, and a spark to spread my horizons.
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