I smelled curry. It was a strong, intrusive smell and I had to know it’s origins. I could imagine the crushed peppers, cumin and spice, mixed into some coconut milk, the ingredients that resulted in such a smell could be easily discerned for the smell was so abundant! I lay in my living room and put down the book I was reading. I was in my boxers and torn t-shirt as I stood up from the couch and wandered around in search of the smell. Every breath was precious, and I imagined the smell dispersing with immediacy and vaporizing into nothing. It took me by the hand and led me out the door and into the front garden. The smell got more faint before I realised it was from next door. I peered over the fence and the smell hit me like a wall. It was definitely the work of my neighbour. It was an amazing sensation, my body drew weary with hunger all of a sudden it seemed, and I desired the curry more, I needed the provocation of spice and the smoothness of coconut milk.
I changed out into soccer shorts, and ran down back to my front garden hastily. I grabbed a loaf of white bread along the way as an offering and to go with the curry. Before long I was tiptoeing to look over the fence, pants firmly on and bread in my hand. The grass tickled my feet as I called out for my neighbour. I called out twice, and then a few more times, before realizing no one was about to respond anytime soon. The front door, however, was open. I deliberated that there were only that many ways to get to the curry. Jumping across would be the best choice. There was no backing out of this, I wanted to try the curry and going back to lie on the couch was definitely not an option. I slipped on my Haviainas and stumbled over the fence, easily making it across. Now I just had to explain why I was walking into my neighbors house without their permission, which I envisioned wouldn’t be too hard if I told the truth. After all, the curry smelled truly phenomenal and everybody likes to hear that about the curry they make right?
The neighbours had a messy front porch. There was no shoe rack and a bunch of casual shoes and flats littered the space in front of the front door. The umbrella rack by the door frame was in fact just a giant clay flower pot and the umbrellas were either handle-less or frayed, or in the unfortunate case of the one with a Garfield design, both. Chucking my slippers aside, I stepped into the house and was greeted by the cold marbled floor. In terms of architecture the house was a mirror reflection of mine. The living room was to the right while in front was the dining table and further in there was a kitchen with a study room on the left along the way. I had only ever walked in during Chinese new year and the purpose of those visits were entirely different. There was something intriguing about seeing a house that was designed like yours but had a totally different interior decor. It was like watching a pair of identical twins grow up to become totally different people in life.
In a sense this could have been seen as an overly zealous approach to living. I was only going into this based on one very compulsive desire which was my hunger for curry. It took me across a fence into another person’s house. A house similar to mine but not quite similar at the same time. Guided in by the smell, I walked deeper into the heart of the house, I was astonished at the differences. At first it was just the floor design of marble that differed from the wooden floor tiles of my house. Then I noticed the lights had been switched on deeper in and they shone on me and had a different hue, a more yellowish hue of a filament bulb. It was strange to see myself like that in a house that mirrored mine.
I walked on and before long I was at the heart, a small kitchen about half the size of mine that was connected to the laundry room on the left. The tiles here were ceramic and coarse, they felt rough on my feet and strangely warm. The cabinets were similar to my own kitchen’s, wooden with brass handles, rusty from the humidity of the kitchen. I saw that on the kitchen stove was a good portion of golden curry boiling in a large steel pot. The pot was shiny, round and I saw myself always reflected on its side no matter where I walked. I placed my bread on the kitchen table and walked towards the pot.
There was an effervescent bubbling that emanated from deep within this brilliant concoction. The smell gripped me relentlessly this time, and I breathed it in hungrily. I stood over it and soon decided I needed to have the curry. Not just a dip or even a small bowl, but the entire pot. There was no question of it. I had no idea where my neighbours were but the house looked empty enough. If they were on the second story, they hadn’t heard me. I could easily sneak this back and have it all for myself. I had to work fast.
The pot was searing hot so firstly I had to grab a small kitchen towel. Once this was done I grabbed on the metal handles with the towel to protect me and lifted the pot. The smell was overwhelming but I had to ignore it if I wanted to have the pot for myself. I had to be fast. The pot was heavier than I expected, but manageable by a long stretch. I deprived the pot it’s place in the very heart of the kitchen, and brought it out into the living room, and soon I was on the front porch and putting on my slippers. I balanced the pot delicately on the flat part of the fence, and jumped across nimbly before retrieving the pot at the other side. Thankfully the kitchen towel stayed on the handle the whole time.
I looked up at my neighbors house and caught some movement on the second storey. It was a quick stirring of the curtains but nothing more followed up upon closer inspection. They couldn’t have seen me could they? No matter what, it was too late. There had to be said though that there was a strange allure to the movement. It drew me back, back to where I had just escaped with my loot. I shrugged off that feeling and stepped into my house. I laid the pot on my own kitchen table that was laid out almost on the exact same spot as the house which the pot came from. I searched for bread before realizing I had left it on the kitchen table next door. Right behind the wall in front of me was my bread! How could I have been so careless! I couldn’t possibly go back, I wouldn’t be so lucky the second time. I just hoped the neighbours wouldn’t notice they had an extra loaf of bread in the kitchen.
I decided to just cook some rice instead. The curry was getting cold as well so I turned on my own stove and put the curry on a simmer. I scooped uncooked rice into the cooker and added water. At the same time I put a ladle into the curry. After putting the rice on boil, I focused on the curry again. It was definitely a peculiar smelling curry, nothing I’ve ever smelt before. I really wondered how it would taste and what sort of ingredients really went in. I gave the curry a quick stir, and the smells teased me further, drawing me in. I fished out the boiled ingredients to reveal half a potato which glistened with a thin layer of oil. What a treasure, I thought to myself. I stirred further, but this time from the depths of the curry surfaced a thoroughly boiled and wrinkled human hand.