‘Uummm … I will get some more heart-shaped cookie cutters today an..dd some colour ball sprinkles'
Said Annika smirking as she was arranging her daily blue handbag. “Twisted-you will bake it” was her only way these days to make love tangible, as her parents have been gone to attend a wedding last week. Family and Twisted were her only two worlds on this earth where she lived, make and bake love.
Finally, she was ready Just like every single day she was ready to bake. A-line red maxi was her today’s outfit.
She took a Lolli in her mouth and locked the main gate.
Twisted was a small bakery shop, 7-10 min walk from the science college and youngsters were a major market for all the shops nearby.
Today is a sunny Monday. She is on her Twisted after one week leaves because of her studies.
Licking and sucking all the sweetness from the candy and singing the song in her head with a woo-hoo whistle on her journey, she finally reached Twisted.
‘hash... oven, freezer microwave everything fine except some sticky dust...not much has changed here in a week.’
She said with discerning eyes.
‘How are you, sweetheart...I missed the smell of your hand’s baked cupcakes so much’.
A plump woman in her 30s came in calling-out. She ran to her hugging and smiling.
‘I’m all good Tina aunty...missed you too really and especially when I got bored of long lonely days studies,
please be seated, aunty the left corner area is still not cleaned...come here’s your all-time favourite place to sit…
I’ll be back in just 2 minutes’
Annika moved towards the baking area with her fingers counting two. Tina aunty was one of “Twisted” daily customers, a good friend and a guide in Annika’s life of a bakery chef and businesswomen. She taught her about good, bad, right and wrong about today’s life and in return, Annika baked cookies and pastries of all kinds for her everyday dull life. Tina Aunty was comfortably seated studying the world outside the glass window, chewing a mouthful of colourful jellies.
Flour, Butter, sugar, sour cream, grated lemon zest, egg and sprinkles of water perfectly blended together rested in the oven. While she prepared the frosting.
Holding a tray of a cupcake in her right hand she goes to Tina aunty swinging her head and shaking legs.
‘Here’s your special lemon raspberry, topped with raspberry cream cheese icing and a candy wedge’
‘Come..sit here my dear, aaa I missed this smell and taste so so much’
‘Where’s Liza aunty? I bought a treat for her’
‘Liza is at home chopping my mattress’
‘Here's a tabby cat cake for her, please feed this to her when you reach home’
Tina aunty and Annika’s conversation was a long one as they were meeting after a whole week.
‘Aniket, my child you are looking charming today...can’t believe that those little hands and those round eyes have now grown up’
‘Papa all this charm is of you, and will always remain your small kid’
‘Wish you the luck my star, have a blast in your very first day as a CEO of “Bouchées Agréables”
‘Hmmm An..Aniket Bhat is his name... right Tina aunty?’ said Annika, crumbling the last piece of jelly in the bowl.
‘Yes senorita and he comes from a family…“Thee Bhats”
They have a business of hotels...and this time Mr Bhat is giving a chance to his younger son Aniket to run this huge bakery… “Bouchee.”...aauumm I’m forgetting the name but it’s something in French” said Tina aunty pointing towards the glass-covered building outside the window, from the table. Tina aunty was narrating the whole story about what had happened here in the area in the absence of her. And she was listening to her very carefully and patiently. Her eyes were looking at Tina aunty thoughtfully. She was recollecting a past moment in her mind.
‘Aunty customers have arrived we will talk later’
‘Okay dear...good luck, have a nice day ahead’
‘Convey my hello and hug to Liza.’
Annika spends rest of her day measuring flour, tasting chocolates and garnishing pastries. In the evening she shut the doors of “Twisted” with a Looli between her lips.
And as she turned around to her surprise she saw a building decorated with ribbons, balloons and blinking colourful LEDs which read “Bouchées Agréables.” Again she started thinking about the same past event.
‘Good morning sir...good morning sir’
‘Yeah Good morning to all of you, please be seated and let’s begin our very first meeting of “Bouchées Agréables-filled with happiness’
The meeting was about to get over, even though it was his first business, every employee of “Bouchées Agréables” trusted his sparkling eyes. Aniket was a tall, smart and young boy. He was the second son of his family and his father had big dreams for him.
‘So I hope everything is clear to you all our goal is simple...utilities-customer’s satisfaction-happiness-“Bouchées Agréables”
FILLED WITH HAPPINESS everyone in the room spoke in unison.
‘Hmm in the forthcoming months we have to acquire the mind space of the generality here in the town and for that, we need to have and increase our word amount...search engine optimization has to be taken with utmost care because a major number of our customers are youngsters...Nidha what’s your update about our competitors?’
‘Aa..sir may I come in?’
‘Thank you for the coffee Lata.’
‘Woo-opss I’m so so late I had to buy the cookie-cutter, flour and some eggs...but It’s already seven of the evening...when will I open “Twisted”...let me take it from home today I’ll buy from the market tomorrow morning on my way to college….What the heck where are my keys?’
The girl with a Looli arrived at “Twisted” and turned the close sign to open on the front gate of “Twisted”. Annika was dedicated and passionate about her cupcakes and cookies. She ran “Twisted” on her own bearing the profits and losses all alone. Whipping cream, knocking eggs on bowls edges and decorating all the circle shaded cups centres centre. She baked plenty of sweet cakes for her usual customers.
Each one who passed the college street that night was confused between “Twisted-you will bake it” and “Bouchées Agréables-filled with happiness.”
Some days passed “Bouchées Agréables” strategy worked and “Twisted” sales declined.
‘Red alert Chanda opponents have attacked’
‘Calm down aunty what happened why are you shouting??’
‘Bouchées Agréables… has happened’
‘Haan I Know aunty, “bunch agreeable” has launched a new theme for valentine’s day and has become quite popular in each town of every state...I was just searching the internet web...and all I saw was “Bunch Agreeable” filled with happiness’
‘The heart-shaped cookie...is something like which cuts into two halves-heart only for couples’
She and her aunty decided to visit “Bouchées Agréables.”
‘Whhh!!! What have you done doltish…??’
‘You are not going to die if you won’t eat anything for a day...look at your sack like tummy...she is busy with other customers can’t you see...can’t you wait...filthy human’
‘Say it again what?? Don’t you know who I’m?’
‘Nidha what’s this clamour from the 1st floor?’
‘Aniket, I guess it’s Annika...owner of “Twisted” the bakery in front of our’s…and she has spilt a glass of water on one of our customer’s plate of pastries.’
‘What is happening here?’
‘Ladke you stay out of this..” said Annika blocking Aniket’s way with her hand. Lata’s eyes were filled with tears, and she couldn't speak.
‘Ladki this is “Bouchées Agréables” and not your “Twisted” and I’m Aniket Bhat CEO of Bouchee…’
‘Ohou so Mr. Bhat Don’t you know that your employees are not your slaves and they too have some self-respect’
‘You stay out of this...Lata, what’s happening here?’
‘Say, girl… these business tycoons are idiots...and they…’
‘She works for me, okay so please stay out of this’
Unable to vocalise, Lata was standing there quite with her eyes trying to illustrate her pain.
Annika and Aniket had a heated argument.
Both of them moved to their work after that.
Light of day was yellow while the evenings were chilly.
‘Yeah, alright goodbye the people of “Bouchées Agréables” see you soon’
‘Good night Aniket sir ba..bye’
‘Lata can you stay a little longer...I wanted to talk about something’
‘Yes.. yes sir’
‘Others kindly leave’
‘Lata, I know it's my first startup and I still have to understand many things but...Lata..’
‘Sir it's not about you please don’t say all this sir…’
‘Then what is it Lata...hush... I’ll come straight to the point if you don’t mind telling me what happened in the evening?’
“Saaa...sir one of our customers was yelling at me because he didn't receive his pastries on time and Annika spilt a glass of water on his plate of pastries...the customer started shouting…’
‘Lata, look at me do you feel so insecure here...don’t you have any trust in me?...you really think that I would have scolded and fired you if you have had told all this to me earlier...before I got to hear it from “Twisted” boss...Annika’
Aniket was heartbroken after learning about this. He contemplated that he is a terrible boss and he could only earn huge profits but not happiness which was his long ultimate dream. And “Bouchées Agréables” was closed for the next two weeks.
‘Wow, balloons printed “Bouchées Agréables” huah...who will dare to compete in front of you girl.
Standing at “Bouchées Agréables” entrance Annika was toreing all the colourful pamphlets, ribbons and balloons.
She was in a gleeful mood, dancing and whistling.
‘Heyyii! Annika it’s my bakery why are you tearing all these?’
‘Ladke you...this bakery had shut down na...so why are here now..go’
‘Ha-aaa Ladki “Bouchées Agréables” is open will always run as always it was just a few a days off’
‘Yes.. of course...don’t you know that you need a good plan and not your silly behaviour to beat me.’
‘Haaye “Bunch Agreeable” heart-shaped special...these can’t even stand in front of “Twisted” baked’
‘It’s business kiddo and not you foolish college exams..you can’t..’
Months passed “Twisted” sales declined to a greater extent. Raigarh festival was close by. Juveniles and couples made “Bouchées Agréables” chairs and sofas their place to be happy. Except some older generation who still can’t keep themselves from Twisted’s delicious cakes and cookies. Reading about the business cycle on the last seat of the left corner of her shop, Annika was involuntarily recalling the past episode and slowly inclining and intaking her core’s ache.
‘Chanda, where are you?’
‘I’m here aunty...aunty you look so sad...has something happened?”
‘My paternal father is hospitalised...I need to hurry up...Liza will stay with you for weekends upcoming weeks, my son will take care of her from Mon-Fri but he is working on weekends as you know these days he..dear I have to catch my flight in 2 hours...bayee I’ll call you after reaching there’
‘Take care aunty and please call me if you need anything’
Liza the cat spent her months end with Annika. The competition between “Twisted” and “Bouchées Agréables” was getting intense. “Bouchées Agréables” was surely winning not only in Raigarh but in almost every town of each state. Some more time passed bringing some more sorrows in Annika’s life. She was sitting on the “Twisted” counter with Liza in her lap and legs stretched on the counter's table Kissing the cosy cat.
‘Liza today we will go for shopping’
Annika was searching for a small pink headband for Liza in the city’s mall 2nd floor. Her hands instantly tried to press a headband between her fingers but her heartfelt the touch of something bizarre, something already known like an old long tale.
‘Yeah me Aniket and they are…’
‘What are you doing here...oouu come here little cupcakes’
The 9 months old twin boys clasped on her chest like frosting on the top of a cake. Making Liza fall behind like a cheery.
‘Annika, they are my elder brother's sons…you are here to buy something?’
‘Yes some bakery ingredients and a headband for my Liza’
‘hamm...I Don't think that cats wear headband’
‘Close your mouth “Bunch Agreeable” Liza is a girl cat so, she will hear a hairband..a pink hairband’
‘Whhat It’s Bouchées Agréables’
He burst into laughter. They did all their shopping and learnt a lot of things about each other, Aniket was laughing like drain after she completed every 2-3 sentences and make her fun all the way especially when she was trying to adjust the hairband on Liza’s head, balancing his stomach with both of his hands. Suddenly it started raining heavily on the night of summer. Both of them along with twins and kitty were standing on the main entrance of the mall for the rain to stop, but the universe had already planned something else for both of them. Finally, they fastened towards Aniket’s car when the rain slowed down a bit.
‘Ohkay you go home ba bye little cuties and take them to ‘Twisted” someday please..’
‘Where will you go right now Annika it’s too dark to walk and rain doesn’t seem to stop..’
‘I’ll manage...you go’
‘Come to me I’ll drop you home in my car’
‘No need of that thank you..you go’
‘Ladki baat suno chalo’
Seated with Liza and babies both of them were tired of the busy day and the long wait for the rain to stop.
Twisted roads and pleasant night, finally lead them to Aniket’s tall bungalow.
‘wow, so you have bought a house tall just like you’
‘Ha-aa-haa, Come in Liza is her name right?’
The bonfire hot tea and poha proved to be good for their dizziness. Aniket was unfolding his life story to her with the twin boys scratching his wet hair. He was teaching her everything about his 2 year MBA. While the girl was sipping tea with a mouthful of poha and patterning Liza with her right leg irregularly.
‘Utilities- want satisfying power of commodity”
‘Yeah you have got it easy and early good..’
‘So you did your MBA from France...hmm that’s why you have named it “Bunch Agreeable” pleasant bites..’
‘Hee-tee How many times do I have to tell you...’
‘How can you do this to me huh, you can’t win what I will say to my parents when they come next week to our annual festival...they will never allow me to run my bakery once they will learn about the losses...and then I’ll have to study and close “Twisted’ ahhh “Twisted” my dream.’
Annika revealed the whole past happening which had been troubling her for a month. After some time of talking to herself when she turned to him, she found that he was sleeping on her shoulders.
Annika clutched the babies tightly with hands closing her eyes to the light of the bonfire, holding Aniket in her heart.
Liza played with her pink headband for a while and then fell asleep.
In the morning Annika found herself on a sofa near the bonfire and a letter with a big pink headband of her head size.
‘Ladki as I have explained you in the night..it’s all about utilities..you need to find satisfaction for your customers and then try to hit at it from a couple of perspectives...but when you were sleeping I ate some of the cupcakes from your blue handbag...don't mind me huh, after all, you ate all the poha I had cooked...and you were right my “Bunch Agreeable” can’t even stand in front of “Twisted” cookies. Next week we have a special cupcake competition in our Raigarh festival...see you there...Ladki remember that life is unfair and that’s why it’s fair.’
The new week brought new excitement for all the Raigarh’s citizens. Annika had finally understood the meaning of the last line of the letter and was busy trying new cupcake recipes with a Looli in her mouth. Tina aunty couldn't decide which gown to wear for the festival. Each was busy in decorating, some were practising for the cupcake competition including Aniket and Annika.
And Annika’s parents had arrived in Raigarh, for the Famous Raigarh’s festival was here.
‘Plee...please keep quite our cupcakes competition’s results are here in my hand…’
‘an..and the WINNER..issss Annika’
Aniket hugged her right away, jiggling and smiling like never before. The festival went on and gave a bunch of memories to everyone. Children couldn't stop eating Annika’s cupcakes and playing with balloons. In the evening by the end of the festival clouds came together to take part in and see the festival and it grew darker.
‘Go to home Aniket and thank you I enjoyed a lot today’
‘Annika looks straight into my eyes and try to feel my heartbeats, doesn’t it sounds familiar to you...it sounds exactly like you because it’s you”
Putting a Looli in her mouth he continued.
‘Ladki listen I want to open a bakery together “MAGIC HAPPENS AND MAGIC BAKES” our bakery will you join me…’
‘Can’t you see why it’s raining so heavily in summer don’t you feel it...Annika will you be my Girlfriend?...be mine..’
Putting the Looli into his mouth she shouted.
‘You talk too much, listen to others also’
‘YESSSSS I’ll be your girlfriend and partner for
‘MAGIC HAPPENS AND MAGIC BAKES’ but firstly go and close your Bunch Agreeable.’
Aniket couldn't control his laugh and the Looli landed on the wet grass among the raindrops.
In that night the universe rained love upon them and they got poured into each other.