The Oil Sizzles as It Strikes

Children in village

He pours vegetable oil from a recycled plastic water bottle and the oil sizzles as it strikes the wrought iron pan. The pan is on a small grill filled with hot coals. The coals receive air from the open sides and he adds new coals and the ash of old coals he sweeps out so they scatter into the wind and upon the ground. There are others along this street that do as he does, tending the coals and squirting the cooking oil and frying the chapati in it until it is brown and hot. I choose this one because he seems as good as any other and he is closest by.

‘A rolex, please,’ I say.

‘One egg, two eggs?’ he says.

‘Two,’ I say.

‘Three pounds,’ he says.

I nod and he breaks the two eggs into a cup. He takes up a big kitchen knife that is one sheet of metal with no proper handle. He cuts a small piece of onion into smaller pieces and does the same with the tomato. The chapati is finished and he takes it from the pan and places it upon the stack in a plastic bag. He uses the knife to stir the egg and onion and tomato. Then he takes up the water bottle and squirts cooking oil onto the thick, black iron pan. He puts too much oil on but I think he will stop so I say nothing but he goes on and now I decide it is much too late. He pours the egg upon the sizzling oil and immediately it bubbles and bloats and cooks through instantly. He pours more oil around the egg and now I think I will not need to chew. I will only bit and open my throat and the greased egg will slide down whole. When the egg is almost cooked he places a chapati upon it and leaves it to cook longer. Then he sees and smells that it is done so he turns the chapati so the egg is on top. He places it on the table between him and me and he rolls tightly and places it in a clear plastic bag. He begins to the put the one bag into another bag but I stop him because I already have a bag in my hand. I pay him and I take my rolex away.

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