A Taste Of Bengal

A Taste Of Bengal

A Story by J.P. Paradise
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A short story of cat problems and home cooking

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Barbara was knitting in the warmth of the conservatory, enjoying the view over the gentle rolling slopes of the Cotswolds on a June evening. Graham and Barbara had bought the bungalow when Graham retired nearly twenty years ago. It was what they had both been saving for most of their working lives; an idyllic little home in a sleepy village, where they could while away their remaining years. Sadly, for Graham, those remaining years passed too quickly and he had died only a short time into retirement, illness being no respecter of life plans.


To begin with Barbara used to visit Graham’s tiny plot, in the grounds of the crematorium, on a weekly basis. The crematorium was twelve miles away in Gloucester and, for someone who had never learnt to drive, it was quite an expedition to get there every Thursday. Her friend Dorothy used to drive Barbara into the nearest town and then she’d catch the bus to Gloucester, getting the bus and a taxi back. When Dorothy had a stroke that put an end to the lifts so Barbara tried to get to the crematorium when ever she could. In the end the experience was proving so stressful that she finally just stopped going.


Barbara was knitting a cat, an odd choice because she despised the furry little monsters. The garden was her pride and joy; during the spring and summer months she could be found during most daylight hours tending to the flowers, pruning the shrubs, trimming the immaculate lawn, and lovingly nursing Graham’s vegetable beds that she felt duty-bound to keep. Graham had been a very competent vegetable gardener and they had rarely needed to visit a greengrocer. Barbara, whilst not quite having Graham’s knack when it came to vegetables, nevertheless was able to produce more than she could consume and gave quite a lot away to friends and neighbours. The constant fight against slugs, snails, aphids and other garden pests she could cope with, but what she was not prepared to tolerate were cats digging up her begonias, scratching up the lawn, and planting their stinky packages amongst the potatoes. She had devised all sorts of measures to get rid of the blighters; sprinkler systems, lion dung, a series of hidden speakers playing recordings of vicious dogs. None of these had proved very successful and so she had resorted to…other methods.


So it was indeed a surprise to her that she found the pattern in the book so adorable. Barbara wasn’t sure for whom she was knitting it. The couple had not been able to have children so there were no grandchildren or great grandchildren to knit for. Perhaps it was for herself. Yes, that would be it; something to sit on the pillow at night and listen to an old woman’s grumbles.


Her reverie was interrupted by the doorbell. “Whoever can that be?” Barbara muttered to herself as she made her way to the front door. She put the safety chain on (can’t be too careful) and opened the door as far as the chain permitted. A middle-aged woman stood there, looking worried. Her eyes were reddened, as though she had been crying. Barbara slipped the chain off and opened the door fully. 

“Hello, I’m Stephanie,” the woman sniffed. “I’m very sorry to trouble you but my cat has gone missing and I was wondering if you may have seen him.”

“Are you new to the area, dearie?” asked Barbara. She hadn’t seen the woman before.

“Newish, I suppose. Been here a couple of months now. Moved into Cinderford Rise around Easter.”

“Do come in, dear, and have a cup of tea. Tell me all about the little fellow,” said Barbara and showed Stephanie in.


Over a pot of Earl Grey, the two ladies fell to talking. “He’s a Bengal. Pedigree, not any old moggie rubbish. Quite expensive actually. His proper name is Windermere Royal Lancer, but we call him Benji. He’s so cute, but a real rascal. Beautiful markings. You couldn’t miss him. Had a blue velvet collar with a sweet little name tag. Being a tom he will roam,” said Stephanie as she sipped her tea and watched the shadows grow longer over the unblemished lawn.

“I think I would remember one like that dearie,” replied Barbara. “A blue velvet collar you say?”

“Yes, that’s right. I am so worried about Benji. He roams but always comes home again. He’s been gone over forty eight hours now; most unlike him.”

“Oh that’s terribly upsetting for you, but I’m sure he’ll show up eventually. He’s probably got locked in a shed or suchlike.”

“I do hope so,” said Stephanie, placing her cup and saucer back on the tray. “If you don’t mind me asking, what is the wonderful smell? Have I interrupted your cooking?”

“Goodness me, no!” laughed Barbara. “I’ve been baking, that’s all. Making sausage rolls. They should be done by now. Fancy one? They’ll be fresh from the oven.”

“Go on then,” Stephanie replied with guilty pleasure. Barbara disappeared into the kitchen and emerged a few minutes later with a sausage roll on a small plate. The pastry was golden brown, the aroma intoxicating. “Are you not having one?” asked Stephanie as Barbara sat down and busied herself pouring them both another cup.

“I had my supper a while ago. I was baking these for the fete tomorrow but letting you have one won’t hurt.”

Stephanie took a tentative bite, nervous in case she burnt her mouth but she found that the temperature was just right. “Mmmmm, this is good,” she mumbled through a shower of crumbs. “Unusual flavour. What is it?”

“It’s the meat, dear. Not any old mincemeat rubbish. Quite expensive actually. Makes all the difference,” said Barbara, and took another sip of her tea. 

Later, when Stephanie had gone on her way, Barbara tidied up before bed. The knitted cat was not yet finished but the light was fading and her eyes were tired. She washed up the cups and plate, swilled out the pot and threw the tea leaves into the bin, where they stained a blue velvet collar with a sweet little name tag.

© 2021 J.P. Paradise


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Very cute. I've never eaten a cat, but have dog, kangaroo, and buffalo.
I didn't expect that ending.

Posted 3 Weeks Ago


Oh my, that was quite an ending. Such a sweet story too until then.

Posted 3 Weeks Ago


J.P. Paradise

3 Weeks Ago

Thanks for taking the time to read. Hope you're not too upset. I've updated my profile bio now, whic.. read more
Shelley Warner

3 Weeks Ago

No, it was not upsetting. The twisted ending made it all the more interesting. It shouldn't have tak.. read more

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Added on July 8, 2021
Last Updated on July 12, 2021
Tags: cat, cooking, comedy

Author

J.P. Paradise
J.P. Paradise

Wiltshire, United Kingdom



About
Occasional writer, serial procrastinator.I write tales that are sometimes comedic, often tragic, and nearly always very dark. Bad things happen to good people, even worse things happen to bad people.. more..

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