You know what’s the hardest job on the planet?
No, not a banker.
Teacher? It’s easier.
The hardest job on the planet is to be a food critic, with a capital F and a capital C. But it’s always easy to assist one. That is what I do. Ojas, Assistant Food Reviewer, HotMeals Magazine. What do I do? The easy job. I write down whatever Riya says, or, whatever she doesn’t say. Riya is the Senior Food Reviewer I’m working under. She has this unique thing in her when it comes to tasting food. Before she could tell me about the taste, her face tells me a million things. For instance, when a perfect coffee makes its way down her throat, her eyebrow muscles would shrink a millimeter, just a millimeter. A sweet is tasty only if her lips make a pout for a brief second, after swallowing it.
Oh, and Riya is very beautiful. We just have a professional relationship though, but then who wouldn’t want to love such a girl! She is the most expressive person I’ve ever seen. Her face would tell me what her words wouldn’t.
We were having this usual conversation about the tastes of the foods that’s been served to us at this hotel, when she said, “You know what! Why don’t you come to my place tonight? I’ll cook. You be the judge!” She had that flawless smile all over her face. ‘A Date?’ I thought. Oh, why not! I shook my head like a child waiting for the cotton candy.
So, there I was, at Riya’s, waiting for her to sit across me and eagerly look at me as I taste her food. On the dining table was a photo of Riya with a tall guy (probably her brother, I thought). There was food all over the table. There was Mutton Liver with Fava Beans, Fish Sashimi, Beef stew and Tika kebab. Wow. Fish, sheep, cow and chicken. How diverse and unbiased!
She finally came out of the kitchen and sat down across me. Just when I was about to start eating, she said, “We’ll do it the usual way, shall we? I’ll eat them first and we’ll discuss on the recipes and then you shall eat it. This helps me serve you the best dinner!”
Thank God! I shook my head in approval.
She tasted the sashimi first. Her face relaxed a bit. Sweeter than usual, I wrote down and looked at her, waiting for her to give her comments. Instead, she looked at the picture on the table and said, “This is Karan, my ex. He was such a sweet guy. At least at the beginning.”
Why is she talking about that guy now?
She then tasted the liver. No big reaction. Probably less salty, I wrote down.
“You know, everything was fine between us until he became more submissive. Not just to me, but to everyone around him. He was this laughing stock people always enjoyed making fun of. And the worst part was that he didn’t even realize it.”
I shook my head as if being attentive but I was clueless why she was talking about that guy and not about the recipes. And why was she telling all this to me?
Beef stew followed. Her face shrunk and her hands stiffened. Too much Spice.
Her face reddened. “When I told him this, he started yelling at me! How dare he shout at me?” She hit the table hard, and spoke at a very high tone, “THOSE WORDS! Swearing a girl? He was a cheap shit! I didn’t know why I loved such a guy. I was so angry that I….” she stopped midway realizing she was out of control. She came back to her cool and looked at me and said, “I wanted to eat him alive!” and laughed as if she had cracked a funny joke.
I relaxed a bit and smiled at her joke, still wondering why she was talking about that guy. I gestured if I could eat and she nodded. Just when I was about to eat the first piece of the mutton, something struck me. I looked at the photo again and then the recipes.
I dropped my spoon down and looked at her. She had her usual broad smile.
Only this time, it wasn’t welcoming.
It was psychotic.