It was a stupid fight, a nothing fight, but it ended with her saying I need to take a walk and closing the door hard as she left.
He started dinner. Slicing onions, all the way through, the way she did it – even though it made more sense not to cut straight through. Turning them and dicing across, the pieces mounding neatly on the board. Sliding them into the pan, adding the oil and turning it up to high. She never bothered to heat the oil first, and tended to cook on over-high heat. Peeling the potatoes, throwing away the peels, full of nutrients. It doesn’t taste right, she’d say, if he asked her why she didn’t just leave them on.
Adding the cumin seed, the black mustard seed, stirring. Chop the potatoes. Add the chili powder, raw and red, and stir until fumes rose into the kitchen, making him cough, making his throat achingly sore. Add the ketchup then, the salt, the chopped potatoes. Stir. Add a little water, put the lid on, turn down the heat. And then he can do nothing but wait, watching the covered dish, counting seconds, minutes in his head. Opening and stirring occasionally, closing it again. The dish is a hope, a silent prayer, a magic spell. If he does it all exactly right…
The door opens, she comes back in, walks up to where he stands facing the stove, a wooden spoon still in his hand. She wraps her arms around him, rests her face against his back. I’m sorry. He says You do this on purpose.
The dish is ready, and he turns off the heat, reaches for plates. She has two already in her hand and gives them to him, saying Never, never, I promise. I swear.