#SampleSunday – Rose of Kashmir

I think I posted this before on my old blog, but I don’t find it when I search this one, so here it is.I did post ABOUT it, and here’s a link to that post.

In my bio, I like to claim that I’ve been published on the wall of an Indian restaurant. I wrote this story in response to an exercise in which scent was the featured sense. When I had polished it, I printed it and had Charlie frame it, and I gave it to the manager at the Shalimar in Louisville on Hurstbourne Parkway. The next thing I knew, it was hanging on the wall in the waiting area and, if they haven’t taken it down, it is hanging there still.

Rose of Kashmir

by Marian Allen

I kept my eyes straight ahead, seeing suit-coat sleeves, shirt cuffs, broad hands, steering wheel, dashboard, hood, asphalt, car after car ahead. Eyes on the road was always a good idea on Hurstbourne, an eight-lane anthill at any hour. I had usually risked a happy glance to the side anyway, up to four months ago.

The Shalimar Indian Restaurant was what my glance had saluted: the best food in town, our special place. Dolores and I had met on the buffet line, had gone there on our first date — most dates — and back for all our wedding anniversaries. There had been ten of them before the blonde in my computer-users group got drunk and called me at home.

I tried not to remember Dolores’ face, puffed and red and shining with tears.

“I don’t know what I was thinking, Dodie. I was stupid. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

But it hadn’t been enough. How could it be enough?

“I hope it was worth it!” Those had been her final words before she filled two suitcases and left our apartment. My apartment, suddenly.

Worth this loss? No, it had not been worth it.

Dolores’ mother knew where she was, but she wasn’t telling. I sent messages through her. There was no reply except to the most practical questions: Your summer clothes are in the spare room closet, the dentist is listed under Preventive Partners in the white pages.

“Tell her I love her. Tell her I’m sorry.”

“I will.”

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Work that day was the same as work every day.

“How’s it goin’?”


A.M., lunch I hardly tasted, P.M., back to the car, back onto Hurstbourne.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

The drive home was grinding. Traffic glared and blared. A fender-bender somewhere ahead stalled me for half an hour within sight of the big yellow letters: SHALIMAR. I crawled past, radio tuned to a station playing music Dolores and I had never loved, while the ghosts of curry and hot mango chutney leaked into the car from my memory.

Still clinging to remembrance, I wasn’t surprised that the rich, exotic, familiar scents seemed to color the air of the apartment. So, when Dolores stepped out of the kitchenette, her wary face floating like a dream over a tray of steaming dishes, it took a moment for me to realize I wasn’t hallucinating.

She put the tray on the sideboard. “I… thought we should talk. Mom gave me your messages. I stopped by the Shalimar and got some carry-out….”

I should have been afraid to open my arms, I should have been ashamed, but the power of our past made me stupid. She came to me in a brief and awkward embrace.

Evening stretched into morning as we ate and talked and cried, a night that was painful the way setting a broken bone is painful.

When I die, I know I’ll go to heaven. It’ll be easy to find. It smells like basmati rice and chicken tikka masala.

WRITING PROMPT: Write a scene in which scent is the featured sense.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “#SampleSunday – Rose of Kashmir

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 16, 2012 at 7:43am

      Thanks, Jim! Sounds like you give me a passing grade on the exercise. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 16, 2012 at 7:44am

      Typical of me: I write a love story, but it’s a love story to food. lol

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  1. Nicholle Olores

    January 15, 2012 at 10:39pm

    Oh, very well written story and very nice too. By the way what makes you wrote like this nice one Marian?

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 16, 2012 at 7:46am

      My youngest daughter is also a writer, Nicholle, and we do writing exercises together. We noticed that we were pretty good at using sight and sound details to enrich our stories, but we never mentioned smells. So we did a five-minute free-write with smell as the central detail, and this story was my result. Thanks for asking!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Sarah Reece

    January 16, 2012 at 9:47am

    Very nicely told story Marian…loved how the two of you bonded over food, since I’m myself a big time foodie 🙂

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 16, 2012 at 10:49am

      Thanks, Sarah! Always happy to connect with a fellow foodie. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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