Author: curlybubble PM
One-shot. Please R&R. The title is a play on the popular pizza joint 'Pizza Corner'. A young girl's first day in the big, bad city that is Mumbai. Written with the theme of 'India' in mind.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort - Words: 2,112 - Reviews: 4 - Published: 05-10-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3021124
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I wrote this story with the theme of 'India' in mind, and it was for a competition. You'll probably enjoy it, as long as you are at least somewhat aware of the extremely large divide that exists between rural and urban India, with the two almost being worlds apart.
If not, read anyway, you'll still enjoy it, I promise. Don't forget to review the story.
s everywhere. They skittled around the floor, those pesky little bugs, flying to the dark safety of the beds, behind doors, and into the endless cracks in the walls. She had expected better. Moving into a new city, having only herself to depend on…
Being the master seemed so romantic when she had first thought about it. But now, things couldn't be more different. She missed home already, and it hadn't even been a whole day since she had left. She sighed, and heaved her tote bag onto the small bed in the corner. She first needed to smash those bugs. There was only place for one living thing in this house, and she intended to be that living thing.
Bringing out her most heavy and sturdy piece of footwear, she got to work. Smash, splat, thud. An hour later, there was a bigger mess in her apartment, but the cockroach holocaust was over. She ran her dirty shoes under the sink water, grumbling to herself. How many movies had she seen like this?
Girl goes away, seeking independence from smothering joint family in the village. Can't cope with 'difficult' city life at first, but then learns to love it. Falls in love. The end.
She couldn't wait for the 'falls in love' part; if there was one to this 'movie' she was in right now. The most intimate encounters she had shared with a man were limited to one disastrous 'date' with a very nervous and sweaty guy, who had used the excuse of a 'restroom' to run away and never return, leaving her to foot the bill…
The sound of the bell woke her from her reverie. If this was her Mr. Perfect, by any chance, she had the worst luck in the world. He would probably think she ate cockroaches or something. She chained the door, like her mother had droningly advised, and peeked out.
A man with 'Pizza Corner' written on his shirt waved at her, smiled fakely and thrust a thin cardboard box towards her.
"That will be Rs. 543," he said.
He thrust the pizza box backwards, then forward again, and continued to grin at her, his gesture almost demanding now. She just kept staring at him, her eyes reflecting only a glimmer of the confusion that she was feeling inside.
"I don't want…" she stammered, and then she got a whiff of the delicious pie that lay beyond its cardboard prison. Why not? She had just moved into a big city from a small village, and had only heard of pizza, so wouldn't the eating of one appropriately constitute for a proper inauguration of the arrival into this big city?
Of course, the price was ridiculous, but she had got some money, and since this man seemed to be at the right place at the right time, she didn't expect him to also have the right price, did she?
`She quickly brought the rolled up notes from her tote bag, and carefully removed five rolled up hundred notes, along with two twenties. She then fumbled in her coin purse and dug out a five rupee coin.
"Do you have two rupees change?," she enquired innocently.
The man's face seemed to register disgust, and then he said, "it's okay, ma'am."
"What do you mean it's okay?" she demanded incredulously.
"I mean, you can keep the five rupees."
"No, no way…I don't take favours from strangers," she said, and thought for awhile. "Tell you what, you keep the whole coin. Buy yourself a tea or something…"
He sniggered and took the coin. She shut the door with a bit extra force, feeling she had just been snubbed. And robbed. Five hundred and forty three rupees! What was she thinking?
She held the box reverently, and placed it on the only table in the house, a small, iron fold-up one she had brought from home. She dragged a metal chair towards the table, and opened the box slowly, savouring her 'first good experience' in the city.
The aroma hit her like a drug. She laughed happily, forgetting all the trouble she had had that day. This was heaven, this was bliss….
Her heart sunk as she took a look at the tiny pink circles on the pizza. Was that some sort of vegetable? Beetroot, perhaps? She read the cover 'Pepperoni and Cheese', it said. She knew what cheese was, but pepperoni? She then admitted it to herself—that it was probably non-vegetarian, probably some kind of meat, maybe chicken, pig, goat…and, her heart shuddered with the possibility, cow?
She looked for a long time at the pizza pie, her eyes keenly studying its pale yellow surface, interspersed with perfect, pink circles. Would she dare? No one was around… but, what if it was cow…her mind searched for the word…beef?
Five hundred rupees down the drain. This thought compelled her brain into action, and it persuaded the hand to tentatively reach for a slice, and pull it away. The slice left strings of cheese behind, and a pink circle, caught in the middle, tottered, trying to decide which slice to fall back on. She pushed it aside.
'Eat only the yellow stuff,' a voice inside her head told her. But she wanted it all. She had paid for it, way beyond the money she had just given to that phony pizza man, she had paid for it. She had put up with enough, lied enough, remained silent enough, worked enough and waited enough.
She tentatively nibbled on the pointed edge of the pizza. It was soft, and the taste of cheese lingered on her tongue. A thin string of cheese hung in mid air, before falling on to the table. She picked up the string and ate it. She loved it. She took another bite, bigger this time, and laughed with ecstasy. So this was what they called pizza. She would die for this stuff. Suddenly, she was glad that she was in Mumbai, living the life most others in her village dreamt of. As she dug in the third time, almost done with her first slice, the bell rang again. Groaning, she considered letting it ring. Not a second later, there it was. The sharp ringing irritated her. And just when she was experiencing an epiphany …
She groaned. It was the pizza man, again. He was holding the rolled up notes she had given him not five minutes ago.
"I am sorry, ma'am, but that pizza was delivered accidentally to you. Tell me, have you eaten it already?"
She was still chewing the last bite she had taken, and looked at him with hostility.
"I gave you money, the money you asked me for…" she began. The man thrust her rolled up notes at her.
"Here, take it. I don't know why you took the pizza in the first place, you never ordered it," He was speaking to her in rapid Marathi now, a language she understood better than English.
"What do you mean, deliver? Aren't you a door-to-door salesman?"
He rolled his eyes.
"Where's the rest of the pizza?" he asked.
Before he could say anymore, she slammed the door on his face and ran inside.
The door bell started to ring. It rung and rung. She groped for the rounded corner of her first slice, and finished it in a gulp. She hadn't taken back her money. She didn't want it. She wanted this pizza, she wanted all of it. She had waited for it all her life.
She could hear banging on the door now, and the man was yelling,"Ma'am, ma'am…please open this door!"
His polite requests had turned into death threats before she had managed to swallow her second slice. Tears stung her eyes, and she realized she wasn't even enjoying it anymore. She growled angrily. She was sick of hearing the continuous banging and the foul words. Having lost her appetite, her eyes darted to the corner of the room.
She looked sadly at the remaining slices in the box, and sighed, as she began to lift the circles of pepperoni.
She stood up on wobbly feet, ready to face the man who had ruined her day.
The banging had stopped, and she could hear only a soft knocking, coupled with silent pleas.
"I will lose my job, ma'am, please…" he was mumbling, his voice barely audible.
She opened the door, and there he stood his figure limp from exhaustion.
He straightened up immediately when he realized she had opened the door. She saw a flash of anger in his eyes, but he stuck his hand out, features tight with agitation.
"How many did you eat?," his voice was forcefully friendly, as if afraid that one wrong word here and there would have history repeat itself, with her slamming the door on his face again. But he was wrong. She didn't want the pizza anymore. At least, not that pizza.
As she laid the cardboard box on to his waiting hands, she spoke, "two slices."
She had just a moment to register the lurid expression of loath that flashed across his face, before she was dizzy, a tingling, throbbing pain spreading from her left cheek onto her entire face. He had slapped her, hard. The hallway still echoed with the sound. She burst into tears, and slammed the door shut.
The pizza delivery man made his way to the upper floor. 'Never again will I not check where I deliver my pizzas,' he promised himself. His mind was playing with the different reasons he could give the customers for the two missing slices on their family pizza. He rang the bell, heart throbbing with fear and apprehension.
A child opened the door. He thanked all his stars.
"Pizza?" she asked.
He nodded, mutely.
She handed him the amount. He took out forty rupees and handed it back to her.
"Say you ate the two missing slices, and I'll give you this," he said.
The child held out a small hand and took the money. She seemed to understand. He handed her the box, and was out of there before she knew it.
There was a party going on, and Leah had wanted pizza. So Mama had ordered some. Now, she had to say she had eaten two whole slices. That would mean she couldn't have more.
"Pizza's here?" asked her mother, making her way into the large kitchen.
"It got here a long time ago, that was a salesman. I had two slices," she lied; her mind now on what she would do with the forty rupees.
"Hmm…" said her mother, opening the box. "Looks like you have eaten the slices straight out of the box again. How many times do I have to tell you to eat in a plate?"
She dragged out two slices, and put them onto a plate.
"I'll ask if anyone else wants," she said. "You can have one more."
Leah smiled, as she studied the pizza—smooth, pale yellow cheese, topped with perfect, pink pepperoni . her favourite. She noticed the pepperoni seemed to have been removed, and replaced. Now what could be the cause of this? She lifted the pepperoni slice off, and gasped at what she saw. Stomach lurching, she ran to the living room, hoping it wasn't too late.
"There's a cockroach in the pizza!" Leah burst into the party, yelling. She stopped short when she saw the stunned look on the guests' faces, and particularly on Aunt Angelica and mother's faces, who each had a half-eaten slice of pizza in their hand.
They all heard the scream, the people at the party, and even the girl living downstairs, sitting at her flimsy, iron table, smiling contently as she rocked back and forth on her cold, metal chair.
A/N: Hope you weren't eating while you read this. The title does offer a helpful clue, still. Please review if you think it's worth it.