The Whole Thing
It was Christmas morning. The snow had fallen through the night and it felt soft beneath their feet as the Masons went across the street to their neighbors, the Prasads. The Indian family had only recently moved to the neighborhood, and the Masons wanted to welcome their new neighbors by sharing their Christmas dishes with them. Mrs. Mason was known to make the best pies.
As they were about to knock, they heard raised voices.
“I hate these whites. Every single day, it’s white, white, and more of white. I’m tired of it. I’m going out.”
Tall, and thin Jai Prasad threw the door open to find himself face to face with Robert Mason, just as tall and looking like he was about to blow his top.
“How dare you?! Here we are, come to welcome you to the neighborhood, and you’re shouting that you hate whites? Racist! That’s what it is! Come on, Beck, we’re out of here.”
A bewildered Jai watched as the burly American turned around and walked away, leaving his wife with an appalled look on her face. She turned to find Jai walking away down the road.
“Madman,” he could be heard, muttering.
She saw a young woman standing at the door and gave her an embarrassed smile. The short, black haired woman smiled back as Mrs. Mason walked back home, the pie still in her hand as an irate Robert Mason stood at his front door.
A few hours later, Rebecca Mason opened her door to find the woman there, holding what appeared to be a bowl of rice pudding. Jai stood near his wife, not completely happy at being pulled to meet the man who had, just that morning, yelled at him.
“Hello. I’m Mrs. Prasad. Monika. I thought I’d bring this over. We couldn’t introduce ourselves properly in the morning.”
“I’m Rebecca Mason. But please, call me Beck. Everyone does. Come in. This is my husband, Rob.”
“He has the dumbest temper, you know,” she added, as Robert Mason got up from the couch to shake hands.
Monika appraised the man, as he gave a wan smile and slowly turned red, saying “Sorry.”
“He’s quick to judge too, Beck,” replied Monika.
Seeing the confused look on both their hosts’ faces, she laughed, breaking the ice.
“If only you had heard the whole thing before judging us, Mr. Mason. You see, ever since we moved here, I’ve only cooked idli, dosa, sevai, paddu, and of course, made rice for lunch and dinner. They are all white in color, and even the coconut chutney I made was the same. My husband got tired of it, and well, blew his top. We were arguing about food when you came to our door, only heard the ending line, judged us as racist and walked away.”
An uncomfortable silence followed these words, which was broken in the end, by Robert Mason.
“Well, I may have a temper, but I’m one to admit it if I’m wrong, and I certainly was. I apologize, and hope we can consider that water under the bridge,” he said, extending a hand to Jai, who took it.
The women laughed and the misunderstanding was put behind them. Pies were cut and puddings scooped into bowls. Egos set aside, the four of them sat for lunch at the table, and looked ahead to Boxing Day, and a friendship hopefully waiting them on the horizon.
(© 27th April 2015)