Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– Robert Frost
Yesterday had been a great day. I had had the most amazing date with the girl. I had known her and had liked her for a very long time.
She was so sweet and adorable during the date. The date had been great, perhaps because we had known each other for a long time, and only recently had I got the courage to ask her out. Maybe, it was the friendship that we had had before, that we both found each other so comfortable with. Whatever it was, it was real, memorable and lovely.
The comfort had taken the conversations late into the night. The next day, driven by the ambition to get in shape for her, I woke up early and jogged a lap too many. So it was no wonder, that by 2 pm in the afternoon, I was feeling like going home for a quick nap.
I slipped off from office at around 3 pm. After buying the regular 2 packets of milk and a loaf of bread for the couple of spoilt pet dogs that my sister owned, I headed home for a quick afternoon siesta before the late night discussions started again.
As soon as I got off the car at home, my mobile rang. Her name was displayed across the screen.
“Hi, dear,” sang the sweet voice. “Are you still at the office?”
“No. I came back early,” I said. “So what’s new?”
“Nothing much,” she said. “My brother is calling a party tonight. And I am cooking. Would you mind if you could come to my place? I want you to have some of the curries I cooked today.”
“I would love to, dear. What is it?”
“Chicken and Mutton curry. Does mom eat meat?”
“Mom eats fish but does not eat meat.” I explained. “And Delina does not eat mutton.”
“Ok, then I will include some fish fried and chicken curry.”
Wow! “That would be great!”
“Ok! Come here at 5:30 pm. Cya!”
Just then, I saw my mobile battery dipping to an all time low battery display indication. I went inside the house and tried charging it, but it just wouldn’t accept the bipolar power feed. It was time to visit the mobile repairing shop.
Reluctantly, I started the car engines, but not before calling her up.
“Hi, dear. I am sorry but I might be stuck up in a mobile repair shop.”
“My mobile is not working. Will get it repaired here.”
“Ok. I have a spare mobile. You could have it if you want.”
She was amazing! “Sure, why not? I could use it for a while.”
“Ok, then around what time are you coming?” she inquired.
“Around 5 or 5:30. I will call you up before leaving.”
After talking to the mobile repair shop, I went to her place. As I was still an unknown entity to most of her elderly family members, I could not afford to show up at her gate without any reasons. Hence, our meeting place was the usual secret back gate at the neighbour’s house.
She came, wearing a funny naughty little smile. She was dressed in her home attires and looked amazing, as usual. Maybe, one of the many things which I adored her for was that she looks beautiful and charming in anything that she wore.
I got out of the car and talked to her. She gave me a large tiffin, a mobile and its charger. We bade goodbye and I drove home soon after that.
On my way back, I began to wonder how the hell I was ever going to explain the curries to my mom and my sister, who was also one of her good friends.
Let me explain to you what the problem was. Before I had started seeing her, my sister and she were already good friends. Hence, I was quite reluctant to reveal to my sister who the mystery lady was. I wanted things to be really strong between us before my sister got word that her friend and I were now more than just friends.
Mom opened the gate for me. As I drove into the garage, I hit upon a plan. I cooked up a story that would conceal it all, at least for now. I took the big tiffin-carrier and showed it to mom.
“What is that?” she enquired.
“I met one of my friends at the mobile shop. He had a son recently, and asked me to join him for a party today,” I explained. “You remember Vikram, the guy from Khurai who got married last year?”
“No,” mom shooked her head.
Very good. “He organised a drinks party today. I was planning not to go, but then, I met my friend Jhaljit outside the mobile shop. He was heading for the party and he asked me to come along, as many people were not coming. At Vikram’s house, Vikram welcomed me with open arms, and since he knew that I did not drink, he gave me this large tiffin. He asked me to take it home and enjoy it with my family.”
Mom examined the container. “What is inside this?”
“I don’t know.” I confessed. “Let’s go inside and find out.”
After changing, I came downstairs. My sister was more inquisitive than my mother. After I had told her the same details, she said, “but didn’t he get married recently?”
“No,” I lied. “It was last year, around this time.”
“Oh well, let’s open up the containers and find out what is inside. I am starving.”
She took the carrier and unscrewed the top lid. She pulled out a set of four tiffins.
The first one was fried fish, for mom. Actually, it was an Alisha fish that she had fried.
The next two were Chilly Chicken, and it reminded me of the Chung-Fa dinner I had had with my sisters in Pune back in 2001.
The last one was Mutton Curry. The aroma filled the room so well.
Mom looked at the fish and said, “The family must really be happy about the new son in the family. This is excellent cooking.” She tasted the dish. “And this tastes great. Why don’t you tell me more about this friend of yours?”
So I continued to cook up more stories about this ‘family’.
My sister looked at the chicken. She looked suspicious and sceptical. She said, “I think this was made in a nice restaurant. It looks like the work of a professional cook, probably at Classic’s, or some nearby restaurant.” I smiled inside. It was nearby, all right, just a couple of stone’s throw away.
“But why did they give so much?” she inquired. “Just look at the size of the tiffin!”
“Well, today is a Tuesday, so most of my friends didn’t show up. So they must have thought that the food was going to go waste.”
“Whatever the reason was, the person who gave you this likes you a lot. I hope that God blesses that family with a good future ahead, with lots of children and happiness,” said mom and she took a second bite.