That eighteen hour long journey chocked me like death! Billions of nightmarish thoughts have been creeping across my heart for the last eighteen hours! Pursuing higher education in an alien country where I have NOBODY was an ignorant, douche-like decision. (Didn’t listen to Mom as I was adult enough to make all the horrible decisions I want). Now my over-zealous self will have to deal with a smelly 60 year old sailor dude who I’m going to be homestaying with for the next six months.
Hungry, paranoid, horrified, terrified with aloneness I finally landed in Australia in a bone crushingly chilly, rainy morning. My host, 60, white, grey bearded gentleman with a pair of glittering, kind eyes winked at me, smiled, picked me up and drove me home. He smells like ocean.
Soon after parking the car, he asked me to water his backyard garden. “But it’s raining”, I frowned speculating more upcoming weird, untimely orders. - “Well, fetch an umbrella and water the garden!”- Serene brutality in his voice lured me instantly.
While taking a stroll around the house I quietly shed a few tears over my parents and friends who are now lightyears away. Moments later, my eyeballs popped out of sockets in disbelief when I found these gorgeous, radiant, vivacious, cute little red-green-yellow skinned, sun-kissed Tomatoes all over the garden smiling at me. Perfect smile. Love at first sight. Cloudy grief that choked my mind went away when I started picking Cherry Tomatoes.
He takes every bite solemnly, mindfully. “Eating is like praying”, he would say, “When you eat, you don’t stuff your body, you cleanse it.”- I sensed, felt a beautiful, enigmatic, electric power running through my heart and soul. – “Did you know that you have a contagious smile?” – I joined the conversation which would continue for the next six months.
He served me cold Noodles salad for lunch. One bite and I immediately sensed that belongingness. Loneliness puffed away. Stone-cold boiled noodles along with warm, perfectly tender, slightly sweet but spicy enough sautéed shrimps and fresh veggies traveled down my throat. And a soul-deep joy swelled within my stomach.
We took a walk on the shore. I saw him hugging the sea and feeling the sky and how he let his soul & spirit fly.
I locked my eyes in the setting crimson sun and sipped into Tomato soup. For the first time in my life. Never imagined good old tomato could make such a wonderfully comforting, creamy, nutritious rendition! A little hint of heat, some pleasant touch of garlic, olive oil and the bright red hue of the soup took my breath away! How I adore the picture of the sailor-man putting warmth, light, happiness, hope, love, sweetness, and charm into the soup pot!
* Cook for 20 minutes 4 large fresh, ripe, red tomatoes (cut in chunks) along with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 small onion, 2 cloves of garlic, salt (as required), 1 tsp crushed red chilli flakes. Towards the end add 1 tsp sugar, if you like it sweet.
* Now blend the mixture. Sprinkle some crouton on top for a little crunch. Or go for healthier choice: toasted sunflower seeds, toasted chick-peas.
He took care of me, fed me, and healed my daunted, haunted wounds on the very first day I set my lone-voyage. He was the one to keep my rocking boat steady on the troubled water. And it’s because of him I was drawn to a lifelong affair with fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables. Also, till today Arthur didn’t disclose my sweetest secret to anybody: how BIG of a crush I had on him from the moment our eyes met ♥