The pan was getting an epileptic fit on the stove when I reached it, following the trail of the stench. The water had evaporated leaving the eggs completely burnt.
This is not how boiled eggs were supposed to be. It was the first ever time I saw them like that. They are not difficult to cook. Boiling is not even cooking, but it does take precise timing to get the firmness right. Four minutes, they say. 240 seconds sounds better; seconds are easier to count. I don't like stopwatches, or to keep glancing at the clock.
I had covered the eggs with enough water to drown them. Switched on the stove. Heard the first hissing sounds and knew that the dance would begin. I meandered away. There was a phone call, I think. After that I sat down to write, because I had to. Egged on? Thoughts waited to be born as words.
That is when the stench of rotting smoke reached me. How can smoke rot? Everything can rot, if it is born of something else and exists outside of itself. Smoke comes from fire, fire from wood, leaves, paper, garbage. So, smoke carries those smells — in gratitude, from love, a sense of belonging, or as a whiplash.
I first assumed it was from outside, possibly a bonfire of waste. Such folly often misleads us. It is such folly that we don't realise when we have been careless or believed that things would take care of themselves.
There was nothing I could do to salvage the eggs, but the sight engulfed me with a strange fear. They were sticking to the pan and clinging to each other. The blackened portions looked ghoulish because some of the whites of the shell were visible. The shells were cracked like barren earth.
Instead of waiting for the heat to dissipate, I added water. It all returned. The smoke, the stench. The cracks deepened. The water spluttered. The gasping continued.
It lasted for more than four minutes. Or 240 seconds.
I could tell, for no thoughts were waiting to be born just then.
© Farzana Versey