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Desi Contemporary Romance

My mother has always said that the best way to make your place in someone’s heart is to feed them great food. Growing up this was something I heard far too often and I brushed it off. I believed it was one of my mother’s ways of getting me into the kitchen to learn to cook. Ultimately, her words became more than that, as today I am the head chef of the city's finest 5-star restaurant. While cooking for more than 50 people a day has its challenges, it is nowhere near the anxiety I have today. My fiance Amir proposed a few weeks ago and today will be the first time I will be coming for my future in-laws. My mom spent the last 2 days cleaning our whole house from top to bottom, while I still didn’t finalize what I wanted to make. In the restaurant, I have assistance and a set menu, but today it is simply me trying to find the perfect meal that will make a place in my in-laws' hearts. 

“Aria, what are you doing staring at the counter? Start cutting the onions, we do not have all day,” her voice helped me break free from the trance of worries. Are they going to like it? What if they don’t like it? Will they hate me? Will I become a laughingstock?

After cutting some vegetables I decided to go with the classic biriyani, goat curry with naan, kabab, and tandoori chicken. Dessert was in the fridge as I had made vanilla custard the night before. My eyes glanced over the clock which now read 12:38 pm. They’ll be here at 5:30. 

The food will be prepared by that time and there will be appetizers as well as refreshments. Everything is going according to plan, don’t worry. My heart raced as I decided the best thing to do was to get out of my pajamas which now smelled like 50 shades of spices. 

There were still two hours left before Amir’s family came and I had enough time to shower and get ready. 

As I rushed to put on my jhumkay (earrings) I heard the doorbell ring. Hands shaking, I struggled to push the back stopper, almost scratching myself with the press-ons I decided to wear for the occasion.

As small whispers and laughs echoed throughout the first floor, I walked down the stairs making my way to the living room. Greeting the guests, my future in-laws, I excused myself to go bring the refreshments. Being indecisive when it came to the choice of refreshments, I brought both juice and soda. 

Amir could tell how nervous I was, most likely from how the tray of drinks so desperately wanted to leave the clutches of my hands. 

“Babe relax,” he whispered as he grabbed the tray. Wrong move. I could feel my mom give me a look as she saw Amir pass the drinks. Nervously laughing, I took my seat next to him, not daring to follow the eyes that led the stare.

My mom wanted everything to go perfectly and more than anything she wanted to showcase her perfect daughter who did everything perfectly. Unfortunately for her, I am not anywhere near perfect. Amir loves me and his parents like me. I just need them to like the food I prepared. God, I wish I didn’t care what people thought.

“The food is prepared, I’ll go set the table,” were the only words I had spoken other than my greetings in all of the 30 minutes they had been here. Words weren’t needed, as my expressions decided to lead. 

Getting to the kitchen, away from everyone’s vision, I released a breath trying to regulate the airflow. Is it just me or it’s getting hot in here?

Starting to carry the plates to the dining table, two strong veiny hands clasped mine. Turning just my head to find the man I love embracing me from behind. I didn’t move my body, hoping this moment wouldn’t end. He kissed the side of my cheek as our bodies cradled for less than a minute before he let go. 

“And what are you doing here?” I finally asked, breaking the silence that only held our synced breaths and the silent whispers from the living room of our parents' laughter. 

“And my bride speaks, I thought for a second there you were forgetting how to,” he laughed softly causing me to roll my eyes and hide a hushed smirk. “I told them I had to use the bathroom,” he shared his excuse and started to help me with the dishes. It took half the time to get everything from the kitchen to the dining room with his help. However, fear stayed still in the pit of my stomach. What if no one likes my food? My mother’s favorite saying echoed in my ear.  The best way to make your place in someone’s heart is to feed them great food. I had won Amir’s heart as he had mine, but Desi parents were different. It’s a great responsibility and burden to have to impress the people who raised the man that you are in love with.

Guiding everyone into the dining room, I stood in the doorway as everyone sat down. Amir stood from his seat to pull out my chair, the one next to his. “Thanks, babe,” I whispered as everyone started to say their prayers. My thank you exceeded to more than just pulling out the chair and he knew that. His hand rested on my shaking leg, allowing it to ease down.

Since having worked in a restaurant from the age of 20, I have only been getting promoted as I go for my skills and hospitality. Never in these 8 years have I been so nervous for someone to try my food. Never have I so desperately wanted someone to like my food.

My thoughts came to an end as Amir tapped on my leg to get my attention. Everyone is done with their prayers so now it’s time to eat. How wonderful. 

Everyone filled their plates as they complimented the smell of the food. 

“That’s my wife,” Amir proudly spoke causing me to blush at the sound of the title from him. His wife.

My eyes didn’t shift from my mother-in-law’s plate, her spoon dipping into the portion of rice into her mouth as she started to eat it. Trying to read her facial expressions, I failed to calculate if she liked it or not. I should be good at this. It’s my job to know if people like my food or not. Right?

“Aria, you made this?” She asked as she finished taking her first bite. Is that a good you made this or a disgusted you made this? My fingers tapped on my thighs harshly, causing me to be convinced it was bruised. “I’m impressed. This is probably the best food I’ve had.” A sigh of relief left my mouth as I covered it with a nervous chuckle before speaking.

“Oh thank you, you’re too kind,” raising my hand from my thigh I began to start eating from my plate. 

“She’s the head chef at one of the best restaurants in town,” Amir pridefully reminded everyone.

“Well then, I guess we found our new favorite restaurant,” his father laughed before taking a bite of the kabab. 

“Have you ever heard of the saying the best way to make your place in someone’s heart is to feed them great food? Amir’s mom asked, causing me to chuckle. 

“I have,” many times. So much so that it’s ingrained in my heart.

“Well then, you have succeeded because I am in absolute awe of your food,” she smiled.

“And I am in awe of you, my love,” Amir whispered as everyone went back to eating.

December 12, 2023 18:57

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9 comments

Marty B
06:52 Dec 18, 2023

Preparing and serving food is one of the Love Languages. Combined with hosting a dinner for the in-laws would be stressful! Great job presenting the suspense of the afternoon ! Thanks!

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Iman Ahmed
00:30 Dec 19, 2023

Thank you so much for your comment! While I may not be a great chef as Aria, I do love to cook for my loved ones. It's a rewarding opportunity filled with great feedback. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about hosting dinner for in-laws in the near future. Once again thank you for your feedback!

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Rebecca Detti
16:08 Dec 19, 2023

Loved this Iman. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed it as I love what it says about what really matters in life. You can work your way up the career ladder in whatever field but the thoughts and feelings of those you love, are the most important. Thank you! Look forward to reading more of your stories,

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Iman Ahmed
19:59 Dec 19, 2023

Thank you so much for your comment! I really appreciate your kind words. Will be posting new stories soon!

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Isbah Numan
14:56 Jan 16, 2024

I like this. It's really cute.

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18:40 Dec 29, 2023

wonderful work.

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Tahha Ahmed
23:57 Dec 24, 2023

This was a great story. Thank you for sharing.

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18:01 Dec 20, 2023

This is really lovely and full of warmth. The dialogues are very real and believable, these characters voices came to life easily in my head. Great writing!

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Taimoor Akram
22:13 Dec 19, 2023

Great story!! Can't wait to read more!!

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