Archive for cake

Swirling

Posted in Lucerne Village, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by javedbabar

Suzi saw him every morning. The Bakerman arrived at four a.m. looking dreadful. What did he do at nights – stay out drinking and dancing till the small hours? Maybe he was O.K. with less sleep, but Suzi wasn’t. For her to arise before four, she must be in bed by eight p.m. She needed her beauty sleep. What if one day he asked her out on a date? He was only likely to do that if she looked the part. There was the issue of how she would stay awake during the date, but if things progressed well there would be no sleeping; he would clutch and squeeze her till dawn – or opening time if sooner. She could sleep after that.

She watched him unlock the door and switch off the alarm. Once he wasn’t quick enough and it began bleating and flashing, and it looked like he was in a club dancing to a trance tune, the strobing blue light making it seem he was appearing and disappearing. He was her magic Bakerman.

He switched on the lights and the master power switch. Once a light bulb blew, shattering like a phosphoric bomb. What did they make them with now – mercury? It must have spread poison. Or maybe it was just glass fragments. It was a serious thing to happen in a bakery – glass in bread. He closed for the day and hired a specialist cleaner to remove the hidden shards.

He dragged out sacks of flour and measured portions. There was Whole Grain, oat flour, spelt flour, rice flour, rye, and good old fashioned, unrefined, bleached white flour. He used these flours for his breads, bagels, brioches, muffins, tarts, and rolls. He was an old fashioned baker using only bowls and rollers, and of course his hands to knead and punch. She imagined him beating her flesh like bread, not hard, just playfully. Enough to sting her.

Transformation required pain. A minimum of compromise and self-sacrifice and, if you were serious, rituals that caused irreversible harm. Circumcision, scarification, head-shaping, and ear-stretching. Even tattooing, marking you as different and changed forever.

His first round of baking was done by six. Truckers came in as soon as he opened the doors. Sometimes they were waiting already. Beef wanted two muffins and a double-double Americano. Taylor switched between sandwiches and bagels. Nancy loved his brioches, but would settle for tarts. It was a wonder that she kept her figure, being a full time trucker and daily pastry consumer.

Suzi went in at seven daily for a cappuccino and spelt or rice flour muffin. Something relatively healthy. She went again at twelve for a sandwich and smoothie. Her favourites were the turkey breast door stop and strawberry banana fruity. Her third visit daily was at four for tea and cake – Assam and whatever he’d made that day.

The Bakerman was nice to her initially – all welcomes and smiles. But one day she’d mentioned that she was attending a party and asked if he’d like to come along. Well to be precise, she’d asked him to “be her date”. She recalled his look of horror. It was as if the thought was so ridiculous that it had never occurred to him. He recovered quickly but too late for her to remain under any illusions. He clearly found her disgusting.

Suzi never went to the Bakery again. She went cold turkey. This didn’t stop her watching him though. His daily comings and goings. She felt most sad in the afternoons.

She missed his rainbow cake, with red, green, blue and gold, all swirling together. Rainbows were created by sun and rain. His smile and her tears.

She missed his marble cake. The brown and white whorls moving within and around each other. They were yin and yang. He and she.

Most of all she missed his Vanilla sponge cake. A simple flavour spread throughout it, combined with the flour forever.

To say she didn’t go to the Bakery wasn’t entirely true. She just held a different schedule. His keys had been easy to copy, and she’d figured out his codes by watching, so every Sunday she broke in at midnight. It was just to smell him. The breads and bagels he’d made the day before. She pushed her face into them. Smelled their cruel perfume. Once she didn’t reset the alarm properly, which he triggered when he entered. Once she’d removed a fuse to disarm the alarm, causing a bulb to explode. Sometimes she tested ingredients to ensure that they were worthy to touch his hands.

Today she had a special ingredient to add to his sourdough. Cyanide would put him behind bars for sure. At least there he would welcome her visits. Transformation requires pain.

Cake

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , on January 13, 2012 by javedbabar

“Now, quieten down children. I said quieten down! Ally, didn’t you hear what I said? Sshhh!” The teacher turned to the museum guide and said, “Sorry about this, they’re usually much better behaved.”

“Not to worry,” said the guide. “It’s understandable.” She turned to the children. “Children? Children! Thank you. I’m going to tell you a little story. It won’t take too long. I think you’ll like it. And then you’ll get your cake.”

“Cake!” shouted a fat white girl.

“Cake!” repeated her friends.

“Yes, I promise. But first you must listen. Who has heard of Azir?” Most of their hands went up. “Good! Well Azir woke up one morning wanting some cake. He wanted something sweet and eggy that melted in his mouth, with strawberry jam in the middle, and chocolate icing on top…”

The fat white girl interrupted. “And cream in the middle, Miss?”

“Yes, child – and cream in the middle. Azir licked his lips. But before he could have any cake, what must he do?”

There were several answers, including, “Bake it”, “Mix it”, and “Order it”, before she got the one she was looking for: “Brush his teeth.”

“Yes, brush his teeth. Azir always brushed them as soon as he woke up. That’s why his teeth shone like pearls.”

“Do you brush your teeth?” asked one of the children.

“Yes I do, I have a special way.” She gave her a big smile, and said, “He didn’t have to bake the cake himself because he was from the Rulers. He was Lord of this estate and had lots of servants.”

“How big is this house, Miss?” asked the fat white girl. Her enthusiasm was to be expected.

“Well, the house is 12,000 square feet, and the estate is 12,000 acres. Azir liked things to match. He also had 12, 000 servants – the rule was one servant per acre. But only a few served in the house. A buttery-baked smell filled the air. He put on his morning clothes and went down from the Tower into the hall, and peered into the kitchen. The servants seemed busy and happy. They were sharing cake. But as soon as Azir entered, they hid it away in their aprons.

“Azir said, ‘Good morning everyone.’

“‘Good morning, Master,’ they replied.

“‘You seem very busy,’ Azir said casually.

“The Chief Servant stepped forward and bowed. ‘Yes Master. We are busy because we are finishing work early today. It is our festival of Zolly.’

“Azir became conscious that he was delaying them. As soon as he had entered the kitchen, they had all lined up and work had stopped entirely. ‘Well, I’d better let you get on with it then. Happy Zolly.’ It was only when Azir returned to the hall that he realized he’d forgotten to ask for cake.

“Cake!” said the fat white girl. The guide smiled and continued.

“He was wondering whether to return to the kitchen, when Mitra rushed in. She had a duster in one hand and a net in the other. When she saw him she froze, and looked down immediately. ‘Sorry Master,’ she said. ‘I thought you were still in the Tower. I didn’t know you were here. Please excuse me.’

“Azir had never liked this formality, but the castes were regulated, and Master-Servant relationships were set. Here was a woman who had raised him from childhood, who wasn’t allowed to speak to him unless spoken to. How ludicrous!

“‘It’s really no problem, Mitra. You weren’t in the kitchen just now, so I’ll wish you Happy Zolly.’

“‘Thank you Master.’

“‘Listen Mitra, could you get me some cake?’

“‘Master , Cake?’ she said.

A child raised her hand. “What kind of cake was it?” she asked.

“It was a cherry-fruit cake with golden raisins,” said the guide, and continued. “Azir said, ‘They were baking it this morning. I smelled it when I woke up in the Tower.”

“She looked uneasy, but said, ‘Of course Master, I will bring it.’

“‘What’s wrong Mitra? You seem uncomfortable with my request.’

“‘The cake was not on today’s menu. The cooks used some old flour to make it. It’s a Zolly tradition.’ She stopped and looked up. ‘And Master, you can’t eat it. We didn’t use the cook machines. It was made by hand.’

“‘Don’t be silly! Bring me some cake immediately!”’Azir hoped that he’d got the tone right – friendly not bossy.

“He expected her to return quickly, but she took forever. He used the time to enjoy the view through the huge windows of the hall. Beyond the misty fields and forests was Mt. Alba, its wide base rising to a sharp peak. A fitting symbol, it was said, for human society.

“Mitra entered the hall, her face flushed. Azir saw that her discomfort had increased. She held a silver tray with a covered plate. ‘Here, near the window, Master?’ she said.

“‘Yes thank you Mitra. Now take off the cover.’

“She did so, wobbling slightly. Reflected in the window, Azir saw kitchen staff peering into the hall. He said, ‘Now break a piece off for me.’ She reached for the knife. ‘No, with your hands.’

“Her body shuddered. ‘Master I cannot. It is forbidden.’

“‘But isn’t that the tradition? To feed people with your hands, as Zolly once did?’

“‘Master, yes it is. But only between ourselves. Not between Servant and Master.’ She held the knife in the air, not knowing what to do with it now.

“‘Do you not wish to follow the example of Zolly?’ he said.

“‘Master I do. But I am not as strong as She.’

“‘Well I think it’s time to update that tradition. Mitra, feed me with your hands.’

“‘Master I am an old woman now, and don’t have too long to live. But I value the years I still have left. I am not sure that I could spend them as Zolly did. But you are my Master. Your wish is my command.’  She broke off some cake and fed Azir, with tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Azir hugged her and said, ‘Mitra, in my home, your hands and your heart will be honoured always. As will those of all others.’ Then he called in all of the white-skinned servants and fed each of them cake with his brown hands.

“So that, children, is what happened here in this room. You listened well, thank you. It’s time for your cake now.” The teacher cut the cake into slices. Then the children broke off pieces of cherry-fruit cake with golden raisins, and fed each other beneath a bust to Azir, and a gleaming plaque saying, “Who shares cake shares all”.

The children also fed the guide. She was unable to feed herself for she had no hands. The story of Azir feeding Mitra had been sweetened for public consumption. The guide was Mitra’s daughter, and had loved Azir. For this she had been punished in the traditional way, as had her mother for touching Azir, as had Zolly for preaching such acts long before. None of these mothers had ever held their children. It had been a long, hard, bitter struggle to change the old ways.