We trudged out of the lift and into our home. I was a bit tired. She was exhausted.
17:30. Shower. Change.
“I’ll make dinner tonight honey. You need some rest.” Her warm smile made my day. “That’ll be great! What are you making?”.
I paused as the wheels inside my evil mind started grinding. “Pizza……. from scratch”. The twinkle in her eyes was genuine – a mix of excitement and curiosity. I shrugged my shoulder. “Promise”.
She snuggled into the bed. I closed the window curtains, turned off the lights, switched on the AC and gently shut the door.
17:45. I swung into action. JJ had overheard the conversation (that eavesdropping crazy 11 year old!) and would be my partner in crime. He already knew. If I said ‘from scratch’ I had to do it ‘from scratch’.
18:00. I opened the shelf and fished out my old 2014 Nexus 5 android phone. No charge. JJ plugged it in and we waited. “It all depends on what you mean by ‘from scratch’. There’s a bit of literal and artistic liberty that goes into that phrase”. He was in – hook, line and sinker. As the phone sprang to life, I went to settings, took a deep breath, and hit reset. This is as close to ‘from scratch’ as my budget would allow.
18:15. I put the Nexus 5 on a powerbank and chucked it into a bag with my Aadhar card and ATM card. At the ATM, the whirr of the machine ended as a dozen 500 rs. notes were spewed out, all crisp and new – as close to ‘from scratch’ as practical. I walked into Shri Mobiles at the entrance. After some registrations and aadhar checks, I gingerly inserted the new Jio Sim into my Nexus 5. The SIM Card box was new and the smell of the SIM card was fresh. I had a new phone number and the successful recharge for Rs. 199 meant I had a new connection ‘from scratch’. I restarted the Nexus 5 and created a new gmail ID as I went through set up. As we walked back, I downloaded the Zomato app. I chose “New Account”.
“From scratch” was shaping up well.
18:40. “Not Dominos – it will be obvious”. We chose Oven Story. We could fit only 2 medium pizzas in the oven at a time – so that’s what was in the cart. The familiar notifications started pinging. “Restaurant has accepted your order”. “42 minutes to delivery”. “Your food is being prepared”.
19:00. My kitchen prep started. I took out some tomatoes, onions and capsicum and chopped them messily. The kitchen counter soon had some veggie bits splattered all over it. “Oops”. The plan was going well. AG strolled in “Are you cooking dinner” she asked in her innocent four-year old voice. “I’ll get dinner for you. The veggies are for lunch tomorrow. Would you like some cheese?” Her eyes lit up. I swung her on to the kitchen counter and gave her some cheese. Thankfully, four-year olds are messy eaters and a couple of dollops of cheese fell on to the counter. Mission accomplished!
19:25. I switched on the oven. “Are you crazy and actually making pizza from scratch?” – my son was confused. “No da. Remember last week when the switch tripped as we turned the oven on? I’m just checking to make sure all is well with the oven”.
19:30. The phone rang. Time was short. We ran down the stairs and picked up the package. We were back in a jiffy.
“We’ll use the hot oven tray to serve the pizzas”.
“The dustbin on our floor is full – can you put the boxes into the main bin?”
Done, done, done.
I somehow managed to get sauce and stains onto my tshirt – brilliant. The house started filling with the smell of pizza and cheese. Perfect. I sauntered into the bedroom. She was awake.
“Pizza…. from scratch?”
“I promised, didn’t I?”
Sometimes a woman’s smile is enigmatic. My heart almost skipped a beat – was it the fear that she knew or the cuteness overload??!!
Getting out of bed looking this beautiful is an art, and she had perfected it. If I had done an ECG, it would have shown bizarre changes.
“It’s in the kitchen”.
“Don’t touch the oven – it’s still hot”.
“I’ll clean the mess up as soon as we finish eating”.
Five plates, a slice of pizza in each, came to the dinner table as we huddled together for dinner. My heart was in my throat as I reached out to take a bite from mine. JJ was already on his second slice. AG was picking out the olives.
I looked at her. She was on her third bite when she paused. “Oven Story. BBQ Chicken Pizza. Right?”. The same enigmatic smile…. Game over…
I froze. The pizza dropped on to my plate. I looked down guiltily, walked to the bedroom and grabbed my pillow and sheet. It would be a long, cold night in the corridor. I walked towards the front door.
I felt a tug on my shoulder. The kiss was genuine. “That’s my new favorite pizza. Tell me the story…. from scratch”. The smile was no longer an enigma.
The laughter and twisted storyline that fills a home when you say a pizza-fuelled story with a eleven year old and four year old are unmatchable.
“What made you happy today AG?”
“Pizza…. from scratch”
“And finally Jesus, thank you for the pizza…. from scratch”. The Amen was delayed by three full minutes as silly laughter and screeches filled the dim bedroom!
Disclaimer: The characters are real, but the story is completely fiction….. from scratch. The pictures are of real pizzas I made…. from scratch.