First published on #ArtoonsInn
The phone rang shrilly disturbing the Saturday afternoon siesta of Mr. and Mrs. Braganza. The Mrs. answered.
“Hello…oh hi, Maria. How are you?…Oh, a feast. So nice of you…yes, yes, we will certainly come tomorrow.”
“Who was it, Julia?”, asked Tony or Mr. Braganza.
“Mrs. Robinson has planned a feast tomorrow noon. She has invited us.”
“Sure. We will go”, Tony stretched as he yawned. Then added, “But Mr. Robinson is not seen since yesterday. Is he there tomorrow?”
“I don’t know. Even I was wondering”, replied Julia.
“Who else has she invited? If it’s a feast, there would be more invitees.”
“Yes, there would be, of course. But I didn’t ask.”
Then with a twinkle in her eyes, added “I hope she treats us to her pork preparation…or Kheema. Yummy”.
“Stop it, will you. You are making me hungry already.”, Tony admonished his wife playfully.
“Evening, I am going to Seb’s home. Will be back by 9.00-9.30.”
“You and Sebastian. Two sides of the same coin. A coin which guzzles alcohol. Can’t you control your urges on atleast one Saturday?”, and then added, “Spend atleast one Saturday evening with me, Mr. Braganza. See how I keep you entertained.”
Tony pushed her away. Nothing ever came between him, Seb and the Saturday evening bottle.
Most Saturday’s, once Tony left for Seb’s home, Julia rushed to her rendevous with her paramour. She tried to reach him but his phone was switched off.
Mrs. Robinson woke up early on Sunday. A few select family friends were invited for lunch and she had no help in arranging everything. She desired no help.
Bad luck, Rem, her husband, was going to miss this feast.
The previous evening she had arranged the finest wine from the neighborhood brewery. The friends loved the Kheema (mincemeat) and she was not going to disappoint them.
She decided to have her bath later, once she had prepared the mutton dishes. As she took out the meat from the deep freezer, she remembered her husband’s love for her cooking, the way he slurped his fingers like a child. The image brought a smile to her face. So sad, he was going to miss this feast.
She stripped the meat from the bones, her hands shaking with the effort. Most of the meat went into the grinder which strained with the effort. But Julia loved her pieces and some were saved for her.
Mixing the masalas, she cooked up a delicious menu in a trance. In two hours she was done, sweating profusely.
Time for the bath. She indulged herself in the bathtub, scrubbing her hands vigorously with the scrubber and soap. She didn’t want herself to smell of meat in front of her guests.
Finally, with dollops of makeup, she was ready to face her guests.
The doorbell rang. It was the Fernandes’ couple. The customary air kisses were exchanged.
The Pinto’s were the next to arrive followed by the Braganza’s.
Then Maria, aka Mrs. Robinson, started her welcome speech.
“Welcome everyone. First of all I thank you, for keeping everything aside and honouring me with your presence…”
Julia intervened, “Oh, Maria, no one in their right senses would miss your culinary delights. Don’t worry, we are here for our selfish interests”, and the house dissolved into a bout of boisterous laughter.
“Hey, but we are certainly missing that scoundrel, Rem. Where has he gone into hiding”, asked Mr. Pinto.
“Oh, did I not tell you. He had to go to Mumbai for some urgent office work on Friday morning. I spoke to him yesterday, he should be back tomorrow evening. But don’t worry about him, he asked me to go ahead with this feast. He said, he would be there with us in spirit.” Then Maria added, a smile lining her eyes, “You know, of the liquid kind”.
“Naughty boy. Let me call him.” Charles Fernandez fished out his phone.
“Switched off. I tell you Maria, he is upto no good. Are you sure he is on official duty? Smells more like an affair, doesn’t it Tony?”
Tony guffawed loudly as he jokingly reprimanded Charles, “Charlie boy. Do you want to be thrown out of the house? Accusing the owner of the house of dirty deeds, you scoundrel. Say sorry to the high command.”
“Oh, sorry Mrs. Robinson. Not a word out of me now, no bad mouthing Rem. Now I will do that only after partaking the feast which you have conjured up for us.”, and so the banter continued till it was lunch time.
At the lunch table, the couples sat near each other. An empty wine glass, placed near the plates, gave an inkling of the spirit to follow a sumptuous meal. The aroma of the Kheema was already wafting from the kitchen, permeating their senses.
“Umm, Maria…my stomach is full, just the aroma is enough”, said Julia.
“Oh, no, no. That will certainly not do, my friend. All this effort is for you”, smiled Maria.
“But why are you standing, Maria. Join us.”
“I always fast on a Sunday. Don’t worry about me. I would be satiated once you have had your fill”, Maria answered.
“Not fair. We forgot. You should not have kept the Feast on a Sunday.”
But soon, everyone was feasting on the sumptuous Kheema spread. Oh, how Maria loved those slurping sounds made by her guests.
“Move over Tony. I am going to feed my friend Julia, some of the best mutton pieces.”
And she just pushed Tony out of his seat. Everyone laughed as Maria occupied the neighbouring chair and started feeding Julia.
Everyone cheered as one mutton piece disappeared followed by the next.
Suddenly Maria’s feeding took in a violent frenzy. She was now force feeding Julia.
“Eat…eat him. Eat Rem. Don’t you like it. I am serving your lover to you on a platter. Isn’t he tasty enough?”, she screamed as the guests started vomiting one after the other.