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making space

a short story

By Mesh ToraskarPublished about a month ago 4 min read
Top Story - June 2024
Butter chicken and chicken tikka

Since the only thing that might pull us back up is caring, it only makes sense that here, long after I’ve let my anger born of heartbreak and grief misplace, multiply, misdirect itself, let the enormity of my solitude turn into something I don’t know how to dispute with, something thick and heavy and suffocating, let the coldness thrash and fight under my skin, deeper still, in between the arches of my organs; here where the ground is always close and the fall is easy and I surrender to it often, lie without purpose for hours, it only makes sense that it is here, I decide to show up and surrender to the possibilities of the night. Show up to those who I deserted. Drawn to the sense of accomplishment, something I haven’t felt in a while, to memory of finished dish sending its aroma into the world and with it, wrapping the room with a strong sense of sweet nostalgia, I get up and decide to cook. I pick up my phone, type a message that reads “Dinner at mine @ 8PM, don’t bring anything” and before my courage deserts me again, drop it in our friends’ group chat, the way one would do when diffusing a bomb in the movies: one eye closed, snip at the wire, hoping for the best.

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Not long after this, there are six heart reactions to the message which is to say that they’ll be there, that without saying they want me to know that they will always be there. With a smile between comfort and melancholy on my face, I head into the kitchen and because I care I reach for the heaviest pot tucked under the regularly used ones. Not long after this, it’s in the same way that a memory hovers at the edge of our consciousness, just out of reach, with no real form, but with definite feeling, my muscle memory takes care of all the necessary preparation - the chopping of the onions and the dicing of the tomatoes and the blending of the pastes.

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After the oil is poured and cumin is crackling in its heat, I add the onions and wait patiently. I know it is when the onions start moving towards brown leaving behind their bite and entering a peculiar sweetness, it’s finally time to introduce them to the spices. Turmeric goes first and envelopes the contents of the pot into bright sunshine yellow. Then enters the Kashmiri red chilli powder and the yellow leaves as the sun leaves the day, without incident but not before turning orange. I add two big heaps, not worried about the quantity as my mother always reminds me why it’s important to use specifically the Kashmiri kind because it’s the colour we are looking for, not the spice. Spice comes from the green chilies which I have blended with ginger, garlic and coriander and are ready to enter as soon as the spices in the pots awaken and are fragrant in the low heat. While ideally, I would marinate the chicken that’s about to get stirred into the pot, at least the night before, I wasn’t planning this, then. So for now, I squeezed half a lime along with my marinade to accelerate the tenderisation, to course-correct if I may, something this represents as a whole. When the chicken has browned and left its fat, I lower the flame, add the tomatoes and let everything simmer until tender. Soon, the doorbell rings, I open the door and everyone floods in and settles around the dining table.

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Soon the food is ready and we are eating, hungrily, messily, our fingers and lips glistening. Soon we are lawless in conversation, talking about everything, everything but work, allowing ourselves to open up in the space we’ve created, how the rose opens up and gives all its beauty to the world - without incident, where the past, present and future slide across each other. We’re occupying this moment but also those we have spent together and all those which might unfold. Soon, the plates are empty but the glasses are vowed never to be. Soon, another bottle of wine is magicked into the scene and emptied into the plastic glasses. The alcohol soils our veins with sweetness and honesty, seeping through them like slow promises. Soon, we are remembering the times we were carefree, brazen even. The instant crushes sparked by a lack of knowledge and their swift vanishings as soon as more is discovered, the breaching of borders of a bar or a club, the nights we moved through the city searching for places to house our motion, searching for motives after the bell was rung for last orders. I wish we could always be this open, I wish we could always be this free. Soon, I let myself be split open like an old book, waiting to be opened, everything which had been buried inside pouring out, rising, flowing, spilling. Soon, as the light breaks, I have sweated through my sadness and I am joy, all belief.

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Soon, too soon, it’s time to split. Pulling everyone closer for a last embrace, I let them pass through my door and disappear into the night. Their hands make a brief home in mine, a last squeeze and they are gone. We exchange no goodbyes this time, knowing that goodbyes sound like an end. We know we’re all like rivers, changing and flowing but always returning to the sea. Instead, it’s a comforting and melancholic “soon!” that concludes our meetings; less of a goodbye, more of a promise - to take care.

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cuisine

About the Creator

Mesh Toraskar

A wannabe storyteller from London. Sometimes words spill out of me and the only way to mop the spillage is to write them down.

"If you arrive here, remember, it wasn't you - it was me, in my longing, who found you."

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Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insight

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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Comments (13)

  • kp7 days ago

    absolutely stunning. i'd swear i was with you.💙

  • Cathy holmes8 days ago

    So beautifully written. Well done!

  • Congratulations on having your story featured as a top story on Vocal! This is a remarkable achievement, and it's clear why your work has received such recognition. Your storytelling is truly exceptional. The narrative was not only compelling but also beautifully crafted, holding my attention from start to finish. The way you developed the characters and plot was masterful, making the story both engaging and thought-provoking. Your unique voice and perspective shine through, setting your work apart. It’s evident that you poured a lot of passion and effort into this piece, and it has certainly paid off. I look forward to reading more of your incredible stories in the future. Keep up the fantastic work! Best regards, Dr. Jay

  • Imsatisfyingwith27 days ago

    Beautiful article I hope you like my stories

  • Sweileh 88829 days ago

    Thank you I am happy with your exciting stories Watch my stories now

  • Hannah Mooreabout a month ago

    Oh, that closing. This is so rich. The tastes, the ritual, the links to your mother, then the companionship, it's history, and crucially, it's futures, all in the room together. I love that.

  • Sonia Heidi Unruhabout a month ago

    Your writing takes my breath away. Those last three words - to take care - sum up this piece, and bring us back the the first sentence, encircling us readers in your experience. Thank you for sharing this gift.

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    Not surprised at all - congrats on a well deserved Top Story!

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Oh, you made my mouth water and my heart full! The delightful way you described the cooking and the spices was enchanting. Your friends showed up without question and all was well again. Too many phrases to copy but I also liked "The alcohol soils our veins with sweetness and honesty, seeping through them like slow promises." Very unique way of describing wine. I cannot do hot spices. This story is wonderful. Congrats on TS.

  • TahimaAniabout a month ago

    awesome ♥️

  • shanmuga priyaabout a month ago

    Congratulations 🎉

  • Mackenzie Davisabout a month ago

    This feels like weeping, and I feel like weeping. Too many reasons why, both good and sad. I can’t quite explain how your writing feels like it’s written to everyone at once and also just me. Perhaps the portfolio will have a few *long* additions soon. 😊 Had butter chicken literally the day before yesterday. How funny, the threads. (Ahem, but not nearly as good as this sounds, though.) I’m Paul’s echo; I hope you’re well or will be soon, my friend. 💜

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    This is beautiful writing...I felt, at times, like I was there, getting caught up in it all and the way you described the cooking process was stunning. The food also looks delicious! Hope you are well, Mesh!

Mesh ToraskarWritten by Mesh Toraskar

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