بخش 12

کتاب: ملت عشق / فصل 12

بخش 12

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Ella

NORTHAMPTON, MAY 21, 2008

Braced for a quarrel, David came home early the next morning, only to find Ella asleep in bed with Sweet Blasphemy open on her lap and an empty glass of wine by her side. He took a step toward her to pull her blanket up a little and make sure she was snugly covered, but then he changed his mind.

Ten minutes later, Ella woke up. She wasn’t surprised to hear him in the bathroom taking a shower. Her husband could flirt with other women, and apparently even spend the night with them, but he would rather not take his morning shower anywhere other than his own bathroom. When David finished and walked back through the room, Ella pretended to be asleep, thus saving him from having to explain his absence.

Less than an hour later, both her husband and the kids had left, and Ella was in the kitchen alone. Life seemed to have resumed its regular course. She opened her favorite cookbook, Culinary Artistry Made Plain and Easy, and after considering several options chose a fairly demanding menu that would keep her busy all afternoon: Clam Chowder with Saffron, Coconut, and Oranges

Pasta Baked with Mushrooms, Fresh Herbs, and Five Cheeses

Rosemary-Infused Veal Spareribs with Vinegar and Roasted Garlic

Lime-Bathed Green Bean and Cauliflower Salad

Then she decided on a dessert: Warm Chocolate Soufflé.

There were many reasons that Ella liked cooking. Creating a delicious meal out of ordinary ingredients was not only gratifying and fulfilling but also strangely sensual. But more than that, she enjoyed cooking because it was something she was really good at. Besides, it quieted her mind. The kitchen was the one place in her life where she could avoid the outside world altogether and stop the flow of time within herself. For some people s@x might have the same effect, she imagined, but that always required two, whereas to cook all one needed was time, care, and a bag of groceries.

People who cooked on TV programs made it sound as if cooking was about inspiration, originality, and creativity. Their favorite word was “experimenting.” Ella disagreed. Why not leave experimenting to scientists and quirkiness to artists! Cooking was about learning the basics, following the instructions, and being respectful of the wisdom of ages. All you had to do was use time-honored traditions, not experiment with them. Cooking skills came from customs and conventions, and although it was clear that the modern age belittled such things, there was nothing wrong with being traditional in the kitchen.

Ella also cherished her daily routines. Every morning, at roughly the same time, the family had breakfast; every weekend they went to the same mall; and on the first Sunday of every month they had a dinner party with their neighbors. Because David was a workaholic with little time on his hands, Ella was in charge of everything at home: managing the finances, caring for the house, reupholstering the furniture, running errands, arranging the kids’ schedules and helping them with their homework, and so on. On Thursdays she went to the Fusion Cooking Club, where the members merged the cuisines of different countries and freshened up age-old recipes with new spices and ingredients. Every Friday she spent hours at the farmers’ market, chatting with the farmers about their products, inspecting a jar of low-sugar organic peach jam, or explaining to another shopper how best to cook baby portabella mushrooms. Whatever she hadn’t been able to find, she picked up from the Whole Foods Market on the way home.

Then, on Saturday evenings, David took Ella out to a restaurant (usually Thai or Japanese), and if they weren’t too tired or drunk or simply not in the mood when they came home, they would have s@x. Brief kisses and tender moves that exuded less passion than compassion. Once their most reliable connection, s@x had lost its allure quite a while ago. Sometimes they went for weeks without making love. Ella found it odd that s@x had once been so important in her life, and now when it was gone, she felt relieved, almost liberated. By and large she was fine with the idea of a long-married couple gradually abandoning the plane of physical attraction for a more reliable and stable way of relating.

The only problem was that David hadn’t abandoned s@x as much as he had abandoned s@x with his wife. She had never confronted him openly about his affairs, not even hinting of her suspicions. The fact that none of their close friends knew anything made it easier for her to feign ignorance. There were no scandals, no embarrassing coincidences, nothing to set tongues wagging. She didn’t know how he managed it, given the frequency of his couplings with other women, particularly with his young assistants, but her husband handled things deftly and quietly. However, infidelity had a smell. That much Ella knew.

If there was a chain of events, Ella couldn’t tell which came first and which followed later. Had her loss of interest in s@x been the cause of her husband’s cheating? Or was it the other way round? Had David cheated on her first, and then she’d neglected her body and lost her s@xual desire?

Either way the outcome remained the same: The glow between them, the light that had helped them to navigate the uncharted waters of marriage, keeping their desire afloat, even after three kids and twenty years, was simply not there anymore.

For the next three hours, her mind was filled with thoughts while her hands were restless. She chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, sautéed onions, simmered sauce, grated orange peels, and kneaded dough for a loaf of whole-wheat bread. That last was based on the golden advice David’s mother had given her when they got engaged.

“Nothing reminds a man of home like the smell of freshly baked bread,” she had said. “Never buy your bread. Bake it yourself, honey. It will work wonders.”

Working the entire afternoon, Ella set an exquisite table with matching napkins, scented candles, and a bouquet of yellow and orange flowers so bright and striking they looked almost artificial. For the final touch, she added sparkly napkin rings. When she was done, the dining table resembled those found in stylish home magazines.

Tired but satisfied, she turned on the kitchen TV to the local news. A young therapist had been stabbed in her apartment, an electrical short had caused a fire in a hospital, and four high-school students had been arrested for vandalism. She watched the news, shaking her head at the endless dangers looming in the world. How could people like Aziz Z. Zahara find the desire and courage to travel the less-developed parts of the globe when even the suburbs in America weren’t safe anymore?

Ella found it puzzling that an unpredictable and impenetrable world could drive people like her back into their houses but had almost the opposite effect on someone like Aziz, inspiring him to embark on adventures far off the beaten track.

The Rubinsteins sat at a picture-perfect table at 7:30 P.M., the burning candles giving the dining room a sacred air. An outsider watching them might assume they were a perfect family, as graceful as the wisps of smoke slowly dissolving in the air. Even Jeannette’s absence didn’t tarnish the picture. They ate while Orly and Avi prattled on about the day’s events at school. For once Ella felt grateful to them for being so chatty and noisy and covering up the silence that would otherwise have rested heavily between her and her husband.

Out of the corner of her eye, Ella watched David jab his fork into a cauliflower and chew slowly. Her gaze dropped to his thin, pale lips and pearl-white teeth—the mouth she knew so well and had kissed so many times. She visualized him kissing another woman. For some reason the rival who appeared in her mind’s eye was not David’s young secretary but a big-bosomed version of Susan Sarandon. Athletic and confident, she showed off her breasts in a tight dress and wore high-heeled, knee-high red leather boots, her face shiny, almost iridescent with too much makeup. Ella imagined David kissing this woman with haste and hunger, not at all the way he chewed his cauliflower at the family table.

It was then and there, while having her Culinary Artistry Made Plain and Easy dinner and imagining the woman her husband was having an affair with, that something inside Ella snapped. She understood with chilling clarity and calm that despite her inexperience and timidity, one day she would abandon it all: her kitchen, her dog, her children, her neighbors, her husband, her cookbooks and homemade-bread recipes.… She would simply walk out into the world where dangerous things happened all the time.

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