“Ammi, can’t you take the trouble of putting on at least a thin layer of lipstick?” chided Nasrin. She then handed over the cup of piping hot coffee to her mother. “I miss those carefree days, ammi. Where did they go?”
Yasmin took a sip and leaned back against the chair. “Abbu was with me, baby.”
Her eyes welled up, and Nasrin rushed to her and gave her a tight hug. It had been six months since a freak accident had claimed Walid, leaving Yasmin to grapple with the loneliness and the heartbreak.
“I am sorry, Nasrin. I shouldn’t have cried. It’s just that my life has turned topsy-turvy, and I feel lost. Why should I live, I ask myself?”
“Ammi. You should live for me. For abbu’s memories. Do what he used to like. It will bring you joy. Trust me.”
Yasmin nibbled on the bread, without even bothering to spread some marmalade over it.
“So presenting you the famous chocolate mousse – by the greatest chef in the world Walid Ahmed.”
Yasmin giggled, “Oh yes. The dessert which only you and I can eat.”
Walid strode towards her with his dish, took an empty plate and inverted the dessert over it in a dramatic motion.
“Is this a MasterChef competition or what?”
“Yasmin. Every day is special. Why waste it on the mundane? Eat and make merry.”
“Ok. Ok. Got it! But what is this obsession with serving food in such a style? It’s anyway going to land in our bellies.”
“Come on, my dearest! Don’t be so boring. Don’t we all need some drama in our lives? Who knows, we might never wake up tomorrow.”
The buzzing of her mobile interrupted her reverie. She pushed the bread aside and got up.
“Ammi. It’s abbu’s birthday today!”
“I know, baby. Hey wait! I will call you later. Bye! There is something interesting being shown on the cookery show.”
Oh Walid. You would have loved this!
“Ammi. I am hungry. When are you serving me?”
Yasmin chuckled, “Be patient, baby.”
“It doesn’t look like the usual biryani you prepare, ammi.”
“It is not. Now wait, and don’t disturb me.”
Yasmin went to the kitchen. She looked at the pot. The burst of colours sent her into a joyous tizzy. She sniffed at the long-grained fragrant rice. It mingled delightfully with the chicken, vegetables and spices. Just perfect! She then took the pot in her hands and looked up. I miss you, Walid. Putting on a warm smile, she entered the dining room.
“My dear fans! Here is MasterChef Yasmin presenting the lip-smacking Maqluba.”
Nasrin let out a squeal of delight. Yasmin, with the pot delicately balanced on her palm, sashayed forward like a supermodel on the ramp, and in an elegant flourish, flipped the dish upside down over the ceramic plate. She then winked at her daughter.
Nasrin wiped the tears from her eyes. “Ammi. You are simply the best!”
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