Isn’t chocolate an aphrodisiac? Mansi distinctly remembered several people on the television screen who swooned at the sight of it. Some licked it off their fingers; others went weak-kneed when offered chocolate ice-cream. She was sure he would adore the éclair and the brownie. Layered choc on top, vanilla cream within. Ah! With every bite, he would delve deeper into her.
It had been quite a while since she had been eyeing him. “So you eye guys?” a girlfriend had sniggered. “Like randomly?” “Of course not.” She had made a prim face. “Only if they are very cute.”
The deal with this guy was – he was far too quiet. The only time she saw him was when they shopped for supplies at the local mart. It was a coincidence – a bloody good one – that he chose Fridays to shop for potatoes and tomatoes. Now, she would hop out on Fridays mostly to avail of the pre-weekend deals. One kilo meat, one lump of onions free. You get the picture. She wondered what made a cute guy like him spoil Friday evenings making small talk with the acne-cheeked counter-girl.
“Look, if this has to go somewhere, better ask him straight.” Her cousin had advised. She was the family’s relationship expert, having gone through a substantial number in her prime. “Just ask him out for coffee. You are way too laidback. Why don’t you try the outfit I got last anniversary?” Mansi smiled politely. Remembering her cousin’s anniversary outfits wasn’t a pain. What was a pain was labelling the greeting card she would have to send out on those occasions. What on earth was the latest guy called? Mansi now went with ‘Happy Anniversary to you and your partner’. Safe and sweet.
Anyway, following up on expert advice, Mansi had trudged along to Camp and was now at Kalyani Bakery. She did not wear the recommended outfit as it showed more than it hid but personally, she thought she looked fine. One look across the street and there was no sign of him yet.
“Could you come to Kalyani Bakery today?” she had asked around the same time the previous week. “I actually need advice on …ordering a cake for my cousin. I wouldn’t know how it was for I stay away from fats.” “Fats?” was his first word to her. Queer. Considering she wasn’t even fat anymore. “Yeah. I am a no-sweet person. And new to this place.” Small fibs couldn’t matter much could they? He had nodded (or had he?) and with a half-smile, picked up his bag of tomatoes. Come to think of it, she had been impulsive enough to invite an anonymous mart-man for a cake-advice date.
A one hour was up. Couples had come in and they had gone. With pastries, desserts and passionate smooches in mind. Kids had jumped in and parents had followed. A German Shepherd had also had his fun playing with a rum ball. Mansi felt enraged. If refusal it had to be, why hadn’t he said as much the last time? She could have put the week in something other than futile anticipation. It was a different story that she still was ‘fat’. And probably more acne-infested than the girl at the counter of the mart. But, hey, wasn’t chocolate an aphrodisiac?
Five minutes later, Mansi sat with a black forest cake, a chocolate éclair and a dark brownie. Six minutes later, she turned to someone tapping her back. “Looks like the cousin was famished.” laughed her mart-man, even as Mansi made hurried facial corrections with a tissue.