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Cook with a Friend, You’ll Learn Something New

In my culture, there’s proverb that when loosely translated to English says “only he who has not moved around much thinks their mother is the best cook.” It is very easy to revere in your cooking abilities because you’ve not seen any better, but it always amazes me how much you can learn from just a few hours spent cooking with a stranger. I had the opportunity to be hosted by Kavitha Sserunkuma of Healthy Bites for what turned out to be an exciting and resourceful cooking experience. I don’t know if it’s how organised she is, but she sure does make cooking something with a long and equally sophisticated named dish seem so simple.

It’s always fascinating watching another person do their thing in the kitchen. It’s like a magic show to me. I enter another person’s kitchen and I imagine how I would cook what, where I would keep which ingredients, when I would add which spice, at which point to serve, on which plate and in what portions. Only to notice this person do things completely differently from how I would.

If I am free with the individual I am visiting I won’t even sit down for a minute, I’ll be everywhere in their kitchen, touching everything and asking questions about everything I see.

“Why exactly do you need two industrial size fridges Kavitha? Oh, that looks like a nice oven, did you buy it in Uganda? How much was it? Wow, isn’t that like 10,000/- worth of olive oil you’re using for that sauce? Okay where have you hidden the royco Kavitha? I know you must have some royco somewhere in this powdered spices cabin, or should I check in the other one for whole spices?”

The most fun was in the interaction, how she never got tired of answering my relentless and sometimes idiotic questions.

“Why do you have a rubbish bin on your kitchen counter, and why does it have uncooked rice in it?

“Oh, that’s my rice dispenser.”

“A rice dis…what?”

“See, when I pull here and push back, exactly one cup of rice pours into this lower compartment. So it doesn’t only keep my rice clean, it also does the measuring for me.”

On this particular day, Kavitha was preparing Beef Fillet Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Roasted new Potatoes and Cherry Tomato, Cucumber Salad in Avocado Bowl. Which is what you’re going to read about below.

 

DISH

Beef Fillet Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Roasted New Potatoes and Cherry Tomato, Cucumber Salad in Avocado Bowl

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Beef Fillet Steak

  • Tenderloin steak
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly ground sea salt.

 

Season the steak with black pepper and salt before grilling it in the oven at 165o C for 40 minutes. The steak you use in this case is very important. While it may not be the best option for stewing because it’ll likely just shred and fall apart, beef tenderloin (aka eye fillet) is perfect for this recipe because it’s soft. It’s also rich in ion. You can buy it from specialized butchers and obviously, you’ll find it relatively pricey, somewhere in the range of Ugx. 25,000, depending on where you buy it.

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This is a picture of my host, Kavitha, Seasoning the tenderloin. 

The grilling is done at a low temperature because a high temperature would just cause the steak to constrict and harden yet we want it soft. In this particular cooking cession, my host prepared two of them and this later served as a good learning experience as I’ll explain ahead.

When I asked why freshly ground sea salt, my host explained that it has more flavor and it helps draw out water out of the steak and gives it a crusty feel when removed from the oven.

 Roasted New Potatoes

  • ½ kg Potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

 

Wash the potatoes thoroughly clean, slice each potato into two or three parts before seasoning them with paper and salt, and then smudged with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 1 hour at 2200c. Roasting these at this much heat effectively gives the potatoes some semblance of deep frying, only in a healthy way.

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After roasting

New potatoes is just one of the many names by which these potatoes go. Some know them as Alika Potatoes, or Baby Potatoes. Any potatoes can work here really, the main preference for these is because they are relatively evenly shaped and smooth, which is helpful because they are meant to be roasted unpeeled. This means they are easy to clean and you won’t be eating dirt buried in potato crevices.

 

CHIMMICHURRI SAUCE

  • Parsley
  • White Vinegar
  • Minced garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

This is a grilled meat green sauce (or marinade in some cases) of Argentinian origin. Some variants of the sauce have paprika, cumin, thyme, lemon, basil, cilantro and bay leaves. If you want it red, you could add tomatoes and red pepper.

Combine all the above ingredients and blend them in a food processor (or blender).

Asked why Apple cider vinegar, Kavitha responded that because it’s fruit based and kind of sweet rather than tangy.

 

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After blending

 

CUCUMBER-TOMATO SALAD IN AVOCADO BOWL

For the salad dressing

  • Lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

For the salad

  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh mint leaves

Slice the cherry tomatoes, cucumber and mint leaves and put them on the side, then slice the avocado into two parts and not any further, remember it’s supposed to be your serving bowl for the salad. It is also advisable that you prepare the dressing just before serving.

 

READY TO SERVE 

When the steak has served it’s time in the grill, you remove it, wrap in aluminum foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes so it can absorb the juices back. She also mentioned that you can tell when your steak is ready when you touch it and it feels springy. While the steak rests, prepare the salad dressing and mix it with the salad

When the potatoes are also ready, you can now go ahead and serve. Slice the steak into bite size pieces, bring the sauce from the fridge and drizzle it over the steak, pour the salad in one half of the avocado, and plate along with the potatoes and the steak.

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Ground Beef-Gnut-Mushrooms Luwombo

If you know a thing or two about Ugandan food then you’ve probably heard about Luwombo. It’s a popular and special dish in Buganda, one that my mom only prepared on special days like Christmas and Easter.

I know what you’re thinking though. “Ground Beef Luwombo? There’s no such thing as minced/ground beef Luwombo!” Well guess what, now there is. Why, you ask? Because why the hell not? See, just because it’s always been whole meat pieces doesn’t mean it can’t be minced meat.

On this particular day, I wanted to do a Luwombo, but I didn’t want to buy more beef when I had ground beef in the fridge. So I thought, why not make a thick gnut Luwombo paste flavored with beef and mushrooms? Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to those tinny organic mushrooms locally known as obutik’obubaala which I would highly recommend for any Luwombo because of their potent heavenly scent.

Unverified Internet rumours suggest that Luwombo dates back to 1887 when the cuisine was introduced by Kabaka Mwanga’s chief cook, Kawunta. The allure of the Luwombo, as I know it, is in the peculiar aroma the smocked banana leaf lends to the food. In my observation, Luwombo is simply a steamed sauce with a distinctive banana leaf flavored zing to it, and the curing process for these leaves is probably the most important and cumbersome stage in the preparation process.

Growing up, I remember my mom’s preparations for cooking Luwombo always started a day before, when she would go to the banana plantation to look for Mpombo (plural for Luwombo) leaves.

These were never like the ordinary banana leaves she used for cooking Matooke, it was always from a special type of banana plant for the small sweet bananas locally known as ndiizi (I am yet to find out why ndiizi). Because these leaves were meant to be water proofed, it was imperative that they don’t have a single slit and handled delicately to keep it that way. This also meant that these would have to be freshly sprouted baby leaves, which could explain the grieving look on her face while harvesting them because it probably felt like mutilating the banana plant. If you did this consistently to a small banana plantation you may not have a plantation in a couple of months.

The leaves would have to be wilted under the sun for a couple of hours to make them supple before surgically reducing the fibres from the central rib of each leaf. The leaves would then cured by lightly heating them on a charcoal stove before carefully folding and concealing them away to a safe place where children would not reach them until tomorrow.

Because you can now buy already cured Luwombo leaves in most big markets around Kampala like Nakawa, Nakasero, even Ntinda market; it has become much easier to cook Luwombo for people who don’t have backyard banana plantations from which to harvest these leaves.

And now, to the Luwombo recipe of the day;

Ground Beef-Gnut-Mushrooms Luwombo

 

Total Time Involved     1:45Min     

Preparation Time         15min

Cooking Time                1:30min

INGREDIENTS

  • 300gm Ground beef
  • 200gm Minced G-nuts
  • 100gm Mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • Bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp. Powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 2 medium sized onions, diced
  • 1 Cured Luwombo leaf with its fastening rope
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The Ingridients 

PREPARATION

  1. Boil the g-nuts with the beef stock with 1/3 of the onions and salt for 10-15 minutes. Ensure you’ve put enough water they’ll need to get ready, bearing in mind that you won’t add any at any moment. Also remember the thicker the better.
  2. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeanwhile, season the minced meat with salt and pepper before searing in a mildly oiled wok with garlic, ginger and another 1/3 of the onions. 5-10 minutes.
  3. Carefully place the Luwombo leaf in a big bowl or saucepan and empty the g-nuts into it, add the beef and the remaining ingredients.
  4. Delicately wrap the leaf, ensuring that there is no leakage before tying it up with the banana fiber strap.
  5. Place in the prepared steaming saucepan and cover for maximum steam retention like you would if you were steaming matooke and cook for 1-2 hours before serving.
  6. Enjoy your Luwombo with matooke, rice, or whatever dry food you want to feast on.

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ONLINE DATING! The hustle is real.

Day 1. On Facebook

Girl meets boy in a facebook group, girl sends a friendship request, boy accepts, girl sends a whimsical message disguised as a thank-you-for-accepting-my-request note but in actual sense is meant as an invitation for a chat, boy obliges and chat takes off, continuing for a while before they find an excuse to switch to Whatsapp where the two enjoy each other’s company till 1 am.

Day 2. On Whatsapp

The two exchange morning greetings and related pleasantries and continue chatting on and off, but conversation is starting to drag and mostly characterized by pointless lols and emoji, girl lols last 11:23 am.
Now, girl is left to carry on with the chat by herself. In her head!

12:30 Pm

“I am bored, I want to chat but this guy is not replying my text.” Pouty face
“But there is no text to reply, how does one reply to a lol?”
“I know, but still, let him take ko some initiative also.”

1:20 Pm

“Okay it’s lunch time now, he should be on his lunch break. I think I should ask him how his lunch is going.”
“But if he’s not busy why won’t he reinitiate this conversation? I think you’re over wanting. It’s not like he didn’t see your previous messages. Heck the ticks are blue. No, wait this out.”

4:50 Pm

“Is this man going to text me or not?”
“Have you considered that maybe he’s not texting you because he he’s busy? He clearly told you last night that he has a busy day today.”
“Sigh! I know, but his last seen shows that he’s been online as recent as 4:42. Why else is he checking out his Whatsapp if he’s not chatting with other people?” Sad face.

6:20 Pm.

Okay, that’s it. I am going to text him. He can’t be at work at this time.”
“So what are you going to tell him?”
“I’ll start by asking him about his day, how it went.”
“You realize you’ll now have two unanswered messages out there. You’re sure you want to portray yourself as that desperate? This man seemed to enjoy conversing with you last night, just wait it out. You know he read your messages, let him reply first naawe.”

9:30 Pm

“This bastard is busy chatting with other women. I can see he is online. Even his facebook shows he has been pretty active throughout the day, liking other girl’s photos and responding to wall posts. I am not going to text him before he texts me, I will not be that girl.” Sob sob.
“Have you considered the possibility that he may actually have a girlfriend, or even married?”
“Then what was he doing chatting with me till dawn last night? Whore!”

11:00 Pm

“Humph! Now what did I do or say wrong? I’ve gone through the entire conversation and can’t see what could have jinxed this. I already told him my relationship status on facebook is just for just.
“Well, maybe he’s also doing this on purpose to see if you care, for all we know he may also be there battling the same thoughts as you, waiting to see if you care enough to follow up the conversation.”
“Sigh! You have a point there, let me just send him a goodnight text and that will be it. Don’t want to beat myself up in future thinking my pride ruined this.”
“Shya, don’t talk about pride like it’s a bad thing. Actually, the moment you send the message you delete the entire thread along with his number. Block him on facebook even so you’re not tempted to text him again before he texts us back. You know yourself.”

11:40 Pm

Starts typing message. ‘Hey there, busy day huh? Same here, anyway, gotta hit the sack, catch you tomorr..’ Changes mind, deletes typed message and turns off her last seen before tossing away the phone.
“I don’t want this man thinking that I am missing him this much. If he wants he will text me, if he doesn’t I delete his contacts tomorrow and write this off as his loss. I am a hot smart chic. I’ll not waste my youth on cheating bastards.”

Day3: 3 am

Wakes up from a sleepless night to pee, carries phone with to the toilet to check on her notifications. Finds 3 sweet and caring messages from all the wrong people, breaks into tears.
Tries to check his last seen, realizes she can’t because she turned off hers, goes to settings and reactivates hers, only to see that the bastard was last seen online 30 minutes ago, breaks into tears.
“We had a good thing going.” Sniff sniff. “What really went wrong? What did I do to this man? Why are men such fuckin’ morons? God I am such a loser.”
“That you are. You’ve only known that man for less than 36 hours. Why the fuck are you crying for a stranger at 3 am? Jesus!”
Doubs her eyes with the sleeves of her pajamas. Discretely memorizes the last two digits of the number and deletes it. Proceeds to facebook, deletes all messages before unfriending, stops short of blocking him.
“To hell with these trifling, cheating sons-a-bitches. Time wasters just” Sniff sniff.
8:20 Am

Boy finally texts “Hey there, still alive? Been a while, missed me much?”
“Oh hey there. Didn’t even notice your absence. But sounds like you missed me, no?”
2:30 Pm

Boy hasn’t replied yet. But his Whatsapp shows he’s online.
And the hustle continues …

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AUTHENTIC SIGIRI (Charcoal Stove) FRIED PILAU

Are you one of those people who would really love to but don’t know how to prepare good Pilau? 
Forget the rumors of things you need to give your pilau a good browning, just pay attention and learn how to cook tasty and well browned Pilau, unadulterated with tea leaves, coffee, soy sauce, gravy browner or burnt onions. 

I learnt this recipe from Hashnunish, a Kenyan famed chef when she visited Uganda sometime back. I am sure I’ve missed or messed up a few steps from what she taught but what I share with you is what I tried and what you see are the results you should also expect.

INGREDIENTS

 • SWT LG Rice

 • Beef

 • Beef stock

 • Onions, sliced

 • Cardamons 

 • Bay leaves

 • Black pepper

 • Cloves 

 • Salt

 • Fresh ginger, crushed

 • Garlic, crushed into a paste

 • Cumin seeds 

 • Cinnamon 

PREPARATION STEPS

1. Soak the rice in cold water for about 40 minutes. Personally, I like to use SWT LG rice for this because I have tried it and I can confidently say that if you follow these steps well you will get Pilao with grains that look fine and crumbly rather than clumpy.

 

 2. Slice and boil the beef/ goat’s meat with as much water as you can and boil it with salt until it’s 80% ready. (Don’t worry about the water, you’re going to need it for stock)

3. Soak the whole black pepper seeds and cloves in hot water for about 10 mins. Pour that water away rinse them again on a sieve under running cold water. (This is to rid them of the bitterness that makes them repulsive to the palates)

4. Grate the fresh ginger and garlic into a paste and have it ready.

5. Prepare your bay leaves, cardamom, cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks and have them ready. 

6. When all the ingredients are ready, heat the oil on high heat until it’s starting to smock and throw in the onions.

7. When the onions have browned to the desired level (but not burnt), you add a little amount of water (like 1/4 cup) to keep them from burning while to add the other ingredients. Please note that the brownness of your Pilao is mostly determined by the brownness of your onions. But please don’t burn them. No one enjoys the taste of burnt onions in their mouth. 

8. Throw in garlic-ginger paste and stir, followed by the rinsed cloves and black pepper seeds, then the cinnamon, cumin seeds, cardamons, bay leaves and keep stirring. 

9. Add the beef and simmer for 3-5 mins, followed by the rice (after draining it) and salt, then the beef stock (or water) in the ratios of 3.5 cups of water (or stock) for 2 cups of rice. Stir once more and cover. DO NOT STIR AGAIN!! 

10. When you listen and the rice has stopped making that boiling sound, it means the water has been fully absorbed and it’s time to transfer heat. 

11. Get a wet newspaper, cover it on the top of the rice pan and transfer 2/3 of the charcoal on the inverted cover of the cooking pan with the wet news paper between the rice and the heat on top. 

 

 This helps to redistribute the heat and steam the rice better. Leave it for about 20 minutes then your Pilao will be ready to serve. The last steps are pretty easy, just transform your plate from this.

 

 To this😋

 

 

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When You Cook Burnt Pork 

When you’ve invited a friend over for food, you’re safer sticking to a tested and proven recipe; resist the temptation to go all magician on the food.

In your attempt to impress, you may end up doing something as stupid as throwing in the onions along with pork at once, thinking, I always do this for chicken and beef but never done it for pork. This time I want the flavors to defuse into the pork early enough. 
You will forget that chicken and beef don’t have as much fats as pork, which when heated will eventually burn the onions until they turn soot black. These soot black onions will in turn yield burnt pork and its in that moment that you’ll realize why you always put the onions, green pepper, carrots and the rest at the end when the pork is ready. But it’ll be too late to remedy the disaster. 

In an attempt to save face, you’ll conceive a wicked idea, thinking, I am not dealing with a food connoisseur here. I could throw in a few random spices and baptize this dish with a fancyass name that he won’t argue with. So you do your magic, plate the pork as best you can, and introduce it as “Cambodian Scorched and Spicy Pork Morsels with Lemmon Zest Garnish.”

To confuse their palate, you’ll first offer them a double shot glass of straight scotch before serving your scorched meat. Then through the side of your eye, you’ll see your guest endure your burnt offerings while you go on about how you nailed the taste and blended the flavors on your first attempt. But deep down you’ll know they’re not buying your shit story, because they’re not dumb. 

In the interludes of silence, you’ll picture them telling your other friends in your absence how your food doesn’t taste remotely as nice as it looks. For a moment you’ll want to come clean and confess that this is just burnt pork with soy sauce, ketchup, red chili flakes and lemon zest sprinklings. But won’t. Instead, you’ll just say a silent prayer that they’ll only suffer a mild stomach upset without the diarrhea. 

Don’t kill your friends. Be a better host and stick to the tested and proven recipes. 

Conned In Dubai (Part 1)

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This is a 1kg bottle of Dates Syrup I bought two days ago. Before then, I had never bought nor tasted Dates Syrup. Heck I even have no idea what Date Syrup is. My guess is that it’s a syrup made from dates, or something I’d never spend a dime on; until I fell prey to an Indian street conman in Dubai.

Me and my wife were strolling back to the hotel on Al Nahdha Street. We were from doing a mini thrift shopping from one of those AED 1-10 shops where the most expensive item on sale will not exceed USD 2.7; and I mean everything, starting from a sweet to a piece of land. You should have seen the village excitement on my face. Whatever I ever wanted to own in this life and the next was on sale here at an unbelievable price. Those shops have reassured me that my dreams are valid.

So we were gleefully walking down the street, taking selfies and being generally naively happy when the conmen identified their prey. I am not even sure what it was that tipped them off, I am guessing they must have felt a heavy presence of village excitement approach them which tickled their conman sensory receptors, jerking one of them out of their car that had been parked by the roadside to start walking toward us from the opposite direction.

“Oh, excuse me my friend.” He suddenly stopped when he reached me. He touched my shoulder and looked me directly into the eyes, slightly tiling his head and leaning in for a close examination like a father who had just stumbled onto a child he gave away for adoption 25 years ago.
“Allahu akbar! See this thing below your eyes.” He was stretching out a finger to touch my eye when I flinched back.

“Whoa!”

“Sorry my friend. But see ring swelling below your eyes? Big problem.” He stood straight up and looked behind him, snapping a finger for his friend to approach. They mumbled a few things in a language that sounded like a Hindi dialect so I didn’t make out a word, all I could glean from the gestures was that they were talking about my eyes in a way that suggested that if I didn’t stand still in that blistering heat and listen to their diagnosis I was going to drop dead in the next 24 hours.

After their quick talk, the first conman handed me over to the next and pretended to proceed to his busy day’s schedule saying just two words; “big problem” as he gestured toward my eyes.

The second conman took over from where his friend left and leaned in too to examine my eyes with his hands holding his waist. Then mumbled to himself words that sounded like exclamations as he stood up, looked at Eva, then looked back at me and shook his head lamenting.

“My brother, my brother.”

Frankly, if someone pulled this weak move on me in Kampala I would have spat in his face, but for some reason I wasn’t thinking this time. Eva herself, a doctor, also just looked on in bewilderment. All that was going on in my head was have I been infected by some strange and fatal Arabic disease that I somehow missed in my preliminary internet research? What is wrong with my eyes? What is threatening to kill me?

“See, I used to have problem, same same like you.” He took off his shades and started to explain as he touched the bottom part of his left eyelid. “My eyes, big. Stomach, huge. But I took this medicine, two spoons every night for 20 days and see, look, look, see my eyes? Problem gone, eyes, white. Stomach, poof! That is toxic infection in your body my brother” He explained as he held my belly like a pastor trying to cast out a stubborn demon.

I gotta give to him, this man could talk. And he did it so rapidly and overly dramatized so not to leave me any room to think. The bastard was so callous he targeted my deepest insecurities. He must have sensed that the size of my eyes may not cut it, so he had to drag my stomach into this. And gullible enough, I was sold at the mention of “Stomach, poof”.

The thing about being conned is unless you’ve fallen prey to, survived, or heard of the stunt before, you never realise that you’re being conned until you sit down and think about the whole plot retrospectively. That’s when you start asking yourself questions like how did I let a stranger convince me that my eyes are big and they have a problem? Did I actually follow this man’s lead to a supermarket to buy Date Syrup to treat my mysterious ailments? Because that’s exactly what I did.

“Come, come. I’ll help you for free my friend. Just remember me in your morning prayers.” He led me to a supermarket a block away from where we stood and I followed like a sheep. He went straight to a shelf, picked this tin of Date Syrup and brought it to the counter like he was going to pay for it. For a second, I actually thought he was offering to buy it for me. But then I thought that would be impolite of me. The man is helping me cure a terminal illness for free, how presumptuous would I be to ask him to pay for my medication. So I frisked for my wallet and held it heady, to show that I gat this. I asked for the price, 16 AED; back home, that money can buy me lunch from Monday to Friday. But I paid it like it was pocket change.
But I hadn’t been conned yet, that’s the legit price for the Date Syrup that is received by the supermarket without any commission to the connman. The conman makes his cut at the next step, which I didn’t know about until I started to walk away.

“Wait my friend. Date Syrup alone, no treat. You need to add ‘majani’ and (another herb I didn’t catch well). You know where they sell ‘majani’?

“Oh, you mean tea leaves?”

“No no, not tea leaves. Come, come. Let me take you to the herbal shop.” And again, I followed like a sheep, this time to the abattoir. It is what transpired in that shop, after all the 28 portions of the different herbs had been measured and the price declared that triggered the war.

28 Shades of Indecisive; #27

I noticed him across the dim lit room. It was that hour when the party gets to a lull and everyone’s settled into their little corners for the long haul. The hour your eye starts roving; scanning each face in the room to try and guess what they are in for. I’d agreed to accompany my friends to this house party as I had no better plans that Saturday night.

He had an acute and intelligent face, only outshone by his megawatt smile; and when I looked up to check him out again, he noticed me. Cue shy smile and look away. What else does one do in these scenarios? Keep staring? Wave? Both would arguably be considered too aggressive.
So I kept to my drink, pretended to listen to the conversation around me, all the time wondering if he would come to me. Surely the shy smile had effectively conveyed the “come hither” morse code.

With a friend in tow, Megawatt eventually sauntered over a few hours later. His name wasn’t as impressive as his smile. So we’ll stick to the name Megawatt. His friend Bob, a burly fellow, was quite talkative, obscene and occasionally; a smug, admiring imbecility breathed from his nose and lips. He was the kind of man who exhausted you just by listening to him as conversation drifted around.

Magawatt worked with a telecom company I can’t be bothered to remember. Must have been one of those start-ups. The girls dropped off one after the other, the last one leaving with Bob and soon it was just Megawatt and I. Knees brushed against each other, little conservative touches here and there, it was really cozy. He was quite interesting and we discovered we had quite a lot in common. The hour grew late and soon we had to leave. I feigned frustration as none of my friends were anywhere to be seen. I’d texted them to leave without me.

He offered me a ride home; I expected nothing less. When we got home, he walked me to the door. We’d exchanged numbers earlier and before he left, he pulled me in for a bear hug; kissing my forehead and unwittingly unleashing a delicious throng of sensations within me. I was sold. I didn’t see him again for a while but we spoke occasionally on phone and chatted incessantly. His job required him to travel quite frequently and between our busy schedules, meeting up was almost impossible. So I was particularly excited when he invited me to his house a few months later. I was curious to see if the throng he’d ignited a while ago still burned.

It was a lovely Saturday afternoon when he picked me up; with beautiful sunny skies, the kind that inspire poetry. He seemed to have filled out more. His tight tshirt strained against his broad chest and chiseled arms; his jeans blue with promise. There was never a lull in the conversation; every gesture and glance seemed to be building up to a certain cresendo.
He lived in a quiet suburb with a neat row of apartment blocks. His apartment was on the second floor; we took the stairs, fingers interlaced.
But nothing could have prepared me for the gory sight that hit me the second I walked through the door.

The migraine-inducing wallpaper defiling his living room had a reddish houndstooth pattern that swirled creepily over the walls and ceiling. It seemed to give the whole room a feeling of impending despair. I swallowed and hoped it wasn’t trying to tell me something; possibly that I’d bitten off a little more than I could chew. I summoned my inner Zen and tried to calm down. He’d set up a little display of liquor and snacks, and we settled in to watch the lineup of movies he’d picked up. I tried not to drink too much, my imagination was in overdrive. It was getting dark midway into the second movie; I’d settled into the nook of his arm, all fear and foreboding long forgotten. Megawatt’s hand snaked up my neck and drew me in for a kiss. His supple lips drew in mine, pulling me astride him. He not only reignited the throngs of sensation, he set me on fire. He lifted me and made way to his bedroom, laying me gently on the bed. As he pulled away to take off his tshirt, I glanced around. Besides the eyesore houndstooth wallpaper that stretched to this room as well, the second thing that caught my eye was the bed. The four wooden posters around it were all embrowned and slightly mossed with age. It looked like it had been handed down to the first born sons of his lineage for generations. I winced when it creaked in protest at our combined weight.

Before my mind could register that, Megawatt moved to turn off the light, throwing the room into semi darkness. Streaks of light from the setting sun played across the ceiling, conjuring up scenes of incredible beauty and despair in my head. I’d never had sex in the dark. I liked to go into such situations fully aware of what stood before me; I was helpless against the thousand unutterable doubts that bore irresistibly over my thoughts.
He peeled off my clothes with utmost care, it was borderline surgical. Everything about his touch seemed choreographed. When I tried to touch him, he’d push my hands away. He kissed, licked, sucked and cajoled every sensation out of my body until I was spent but still he did not get inside me. With an energy borne out of frustration, I reached for his willy.

There it lay between his legs and mine; limp. Flaccid like a fish out of water.
I held on to it, massaged and stroked with tragic futility.

“I think I’m distracted,” he said after a few moments.

I’d never heard that one before. So novel was that excuse, that I couldn’t think of an appropriate response. I got up and gathered my clothes, silently dressing up in the now pitch black room. Covering up his limp biscuit, he followed me saying we should talk about it; but there was nothing I could contribute to such a conversation.

I asked him to take me home. An air of deep and irredeemable gloom hung over and pervaded all through the journey back home. When I got out of the car, I heard him say, “I’m sorry” with an air of affected civility before he drove off.
He called me a few days later asking if we could start over but I simply couldn’t. I wasn’t looking for a relationship with him so it was not a priority to psych- evaluate what could possibly distract a man who’s having sex with me.

I told him I was starting a job in a different town and I simply didn’t have the time. We haven’t spoken since. I should have listened to that wallpaper; turns out walls speak as well.

Written by Morticia; A pseudonym chosen by a wimpy friend who couldn’t let me post these chronicles under her true identity; for obvious reasons, I guess. Read #28 here

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