Roasted Sweet Potato

The roads were desolate except for the few flickering lights and shadows of passing vehicles that occassionaly hurried through the empty night. A girl in her early twenties was slowly walking on the pavement, her head hanging low in deep thought. She had on a loose oversized coat and carried a little book in one hand, holding it rather firmly. Her pale fingers looked frozen stiff. Another book was bulging out from her coat pocket. Every now and then she would tug her hat and pull the scarf around her neck closer. It was cold and the icy wind pierced through her flesh, chilling her to the bones.

Near the signal, she stood huddled in one corner, waiting for it to turn green. And as she started walking down the road, an impatient driver honked his horn twice. She fumbled in her steps as she tried to hasten her pace. Looking up at the driver she muttered a curse before climbing onto the pavement at the other side of the road again.

It had snowed earlier in the evening. And the roads were still moist and slippery. The wet pavements glistened eerily in the yellow street light, casting her long shadow on the glassy surface.

The front yard of her appartment was caked in slushy mud and snow. Reluctantly, she lifted the lock of the gate and trudged inside. Her boots squished against the half frozen puddles. From inside, a baritone voice enquired, “Is that you Melanie?” She affirmed her presence from the porch as she bent down to remove her boots gingerly. Shuffling them aside with her toes, Melanie entered into the warmth of her appartment.

The smell of roasted sweet potato welcomed her and she felt herself smile inspite of her sour mood. She quickly took off her coat and left it dangling on the hook behind the door. Setting down her book on the table, she rubbed her numb hands together. With a spring in her steps she went straight towards the kitchen. Stealing from behind her mother’s back she shoved a few hot pieces of sweet potato into her mouth, ignoring her mother’s distress and the nagging that followed. “Melanie, dont do that. Go wash your hands first. How many times have I told you to sit at the table and wait for the food to be brought there instead of coming here and pouncing on them from behind me? You never pay any heed to my words. Are you even listening?”

Melanie just laughed and shrugged it off. She loved her mother’s roasted sweet potatoes. For that matter, she loved any food that her mother made. Whenever she returned home, these pleasant treats never failed to cheer her up. Sometimes, while walking stiff out in the cold, the scent of her mother’s food would pop into her mind and instantly, she would feel happier. And taking longer strides, she would race homewards.

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