It was a potato but not as you’d know it.....
...Perched on the edge of the plate along with a pile of fried spicy rice the potato smelt funny, tasted funny, but still, I swallowed———and the friggin rest.
Refusing food to the Bangladesh staff in the restaurant was on a par with treason, and I told myself the weird taste had something to do with spices.
Who am I kidding, it was a hot day, and that plate of food was as off as a Boris Johnson excuse.
Hours later, squashed against the wall in our double bed, I could feel a stirring in my loins. I was seriously regretting polishing off not only the potatoes but the last of Hubby’s Quality Street chocolates————Toffee-friggin-fingers, hardly my favorite, but I saw it as my duty to finish and claim the empty box for better things.
I was staying with my Hubby at the time in the staff flat. The sort of flat students would turn their nose up at; that is a storage center for the restaurant below and all the other restaurants closed by the owner.
A run-down place with a dark passage to the toilet lit up by a fire exit light, so cluttered even an anorexic would struggle to squeeze by. There were more boxes piled up in the passage than an Amazon warehouse————not the best place to have the runs.
The kitchen across from Hubby’s room housed a leaking kettle, several microwaves stacked about the sink, a selection of eighties-style restaurant furniture piled high, and a bread machine, date unknown holding open the door.
My Hubby and I had been married for over ten years, we lived separately, and I had seen a variety of staff flats.
This flat was probably the best.
The kettle worked (if you held it in a certain way), and the kitchen had a good view (if you stood on the right chair).
He’s from Bangladesh, working in restaurants run by Bangladesh men who spoke in a language as hard to follow as a road map. While I come from a family of opinionated women who thought cleanliness was better than godliness.
It had been a rocky ride of clashing cultures; misunderstandings on a par with a UN conference, but I have learned many things.
How to have silent sex in a bed rammed against the wall.
That real love is letting your partner have the "freedom" side of the bed (the side not rammed against a wall).
How to evacuate said bed wearing something that made the splits not pornographic——a must at my age, my family jewels have the hair of a coconut on chemo.
That yelling in Bangla means almost anything but arguing; there are worse things than mold on walls.
And that a Bangladesh fellow can wrap a towel around his waist like no other; while mine falls at the hint of a sneeze, my Hubby’s would remain firmly in place in a hurricane.
I think it is the wearing of a lungi that does it, a village thing that all men in the flat wear after work; a flimsy sari-like affair that remains firmly fixed about the waist, immovable even mid-smokers' cough.
But most of all, I have learned to appreciate my modest flat, that matching towels are not the be-all, and luxury is not a five-star “whatever” but hot water, windows that open, lights that work, and wandering from the bed to the toilet as nude as a newborn.
I clutched my stomach, praying for a false alarm.
I was trying to sleep and getting nowhere fast, Hubby oblivious to the rummaging in my insides, was flicking through his iPad on the “freedom” side of the bed.
My stomach squeezed tight.
Why the fuck did I swallow that potato? I could feel it waging war with the toffee fingers.
Staring into the dark, the wall inches from my nose, I waited.
You can’t rush a vomit. It takes time for the stomach to round its troops, prepare for an evacuation. Time spent in dread-----hoping for a false alarm, a peace treaty, knowing full well that the evacuation is as inevitable as war and just as sudden as the first bombing.
I dived over Hubby engrossed in Facebook with a speed that had me crashing to the floor.
He peered over his iPad, " why didn't you ask me to move?”
My stomach contracted like it was about to give birth.
“I didn't want to wake you.” I heaved, scrabbling for the empty Quality Streets tub.
I heaved again.
A days worth of rice and lentils erupted like Mount Vesuvius.
I filled the friggin tub.
I heaved yet again.
Hubby oblivious to the offending froth in the Quality Street tub, rubbed my back—true love.
Several “Oh Gods” later, I stumble into bed wondering if I had taken my passion for potatoes too far, that I should rethink the whole eating to please people as Hubby headed off to yell at the cook in Bangla.
I heard “off” and “poison” several times, and before he had time to finish, I was up again…it seemed the toffee fingers wanted out too…
With a flying split over a microwave, I made it to the kitchen sink, moaning like a great bear in pain. Evacuating a few slithers of chocolate seemed as painful as giving birth.
I could hear Bangla talking by the bread machine.
I looked up to see the cook, lungi firmly in place with a large lemon in his hand and a “smell this” gesture.
“Take it," said Hubby.
“It will help,” said the cook.
“I’m dying,” I muttered with a feeble stumble onto an eighties chair.
I hung my head in sorrow, vowing that if I were to make it through the night, I would never touch a toffee finger again, when a lemon was shoved under my nose.
I jumped back to the sink.
The bugger-all contents of my stomach were trying to escape like something out of “Alien”.
“Take the lemon."
"It's from Bangladesh.”
“Will you Fuck off with the lemon.”
It was a long night of cold flannels on my forehead and back rubs care of Hubby; while I was on the freedom side of the bed staring into the abyss.
I thought I was dying and that nothing could be worst than a stomach hell-bent on heaving itself inside out with a lemon under your nose doing fuck all but making the Hubby happy.
Then the bowels took over, propelling me into a zig-zag football-style sprint past the large cans of Ghee and vegetable oil, knocking over the waiter peering from his room with a concerned look.
I spent what seemed an eternity of “I’m dying” moments on the toilet--------head in the sink while Hubby paced and the men in lungis shouted about the power of Bangladesh lemons.
I had no idea the body could hold so much inside.
The next day as I recuperated on the “freedom” side of the bed, the staff stuck their head around the bedroom door with a “you ok?”
It was strangely comforting.
The sips of water by your lips, the cool towels on your forehead, the back rubbing, and the shouting in the background are way better than puking on your own in a posh bathroom with matching towels.
Nude walking to the toilet is not the be-all at all, but rather, being cared for when you can't manage yourself.
A few days later, with aching muscles I had no idea existed, I was well enough to head home.
The cook peering from the kitchen with a “you ok?” handed me a pan sick alone in my flat before nude-running to the bathroom and I have to say it was not as luxurious as having a lemon shoved in your face, a cold towel on your forehead, and a man in a lungi jumping out the way.