"My Tigress Wife" by Susmita Bhattacharya
I met my wife in a Chinese restaurant. She was the waitress. I complained about my soup being cold and she emptied it on my lap. I was speechless. She was fired. I bought her dinner. She ended up pregnant. So we married before she began to show.
She was exquisite. Thick black bangs over almond shaped eyes. Rosebud lips and tiny twinkling teeth. Flat square face with red apples for cheeks. A lisp in her speech. Red talons for nails. Soft round belly that grew and grew.
She cooked a banquet every night. The aromas in the street led to our door. I feasted on slippery noodles and rice congee. I nibbled on dumplings and seaweed and shark. I crunched on battered prawns and quail’s eggs. I often got a bowl of scalding soup thrown in my direction. Or a plate of salmon fritters in my lap. Her tongue-tied fury was transferred to her hands. I proudly bore her marks to any enquiring eye, for her passion was unquenchable. Hormones, I reasoned.
I watched a documentary on China once. And there I saw the Xiamen tiger. Small but powerful. Beautiful but dangerous. Especially when with child. Like my wife, my little tigress wife.
And so it continued until we had our son. Sleepless nights and muddled days made her mad. I worried she might drop him in the cooking pot. Dump porridge on his head. I began to stay home more often. Just to look out for him.
My beautiful son. With thick black spikes of hair over his square flat face. Puckered lips pressing against her breast. Gurgling and cooing. And she, with darkened eyelids and chapped lips, sat in the shaded room, cuddling and nursing. She spoke Chinese. He understood. My tigress wife, alas, was tamed.First published in Tears in the Fence, 2013