I had started noticing her six months back. I remember her because her face was so remarkably beautiful. She had the charm of the heroines of the Hindi films in the 60’s. why do I remember her? Well…. It is not everyday that a female patron of the restaurant where I work demands to see the chef and compliments him on the Chef’s Special. I loved the way she said, she’d kill for the recipe. I had just smiled and bowed. I realized she had become a regular patron a month later. She always sat Table No1 which generally no one preferred, as it faced the kitchen and the constant comings and goings of the waiters spoilt its ambience. Only disgruntled guests occupied it on particularly busy evenings. Normally, the maitre d’hotel or the owner had their business lunches and dinners there. When she started frequenting and asking for table no.1, I was curious. But as days went by, I saw the mystery clearing itself. Jatin… the young Nepali waiter who had joined in the month of September! I was amused, like all the others, when she started asking for Table No.1 which was allotted to Jatin who was in his training period. She vibed well with him…he always was ready to please. I wondered what she saw in the callow youth… Aah! Jatin resembled Rajesh Khanna, the superstar of yester years… Now I have heard that Men get naughty at the age of forty… but women at fifty? Do they go for ‘relation amoureuses’? Extra- marital affairs? So openly? Throwing caution to the wind? When I cornered Jatin, he blushed and I knew I had hit the nail on the head. Their laison continued and I became more and more intrigued. She was so predictable. She always came during the early lunch hours, always wearing white cotton salwars and churidaars with duppattas in pastel shades , always sat at table number 1 and always ordered the same dishes. A daal, a curry, 2 chapathis. She changed only her choice of dessert, which she coyly left to Jatin to choose from. I watched as romance blossomed over rasmalais, gulab jamuns, moong halwas and balushahis… There was no use warning Jatin. He was smitten… smitten badly! For a youth who had just escaped from the drudgery of a lower middle class life in Kathmandu to the exotic world of Dubai, this was a dream come true… The woman had obviously fallen for his looks..and youth… He just shrugged off all advice. I knew he was heading for trouble. Then, she stopped coming. Jatin’s world seemed to have collapsed! He was moody and irritable. He blundered while waiting on guests… often delivering wrong orders to the wrong table and was reprimanded by the maitre d’hotel. I found him watching people moodily… even me, his self- appointed mentor…inside the kitchen. And then, one afternoon, she came back to the restaurant and into his life. She looked tense and drawn too, as though she had missed him too. We looked on indulgently as Jatin’s smile returned and he bounced back to his charming, laughing days… I was resigned. There were things beyond human control. This affair was one such. I sensed doom, but was helpless. I watched the youngman like a resigned parent. I was shocked when the maitre d’hotel broke the news to me. Jatin was absconding. A police complaint will have to be made. He was missing from his room and the room- mates had found a sealed envelope addressed to me, on his pillow. I wiped my hands on my apron before taking it and tearing it open. ‘Masterji pranaam,’ he had written. ‘I have committed a sin. I cannot face anyone at the restaurant… especially you. I fell for her charms and betrayed you. How was I to know that she was after me to get your recipe for Mathura Ki Rani. It seems she asked you for the recipe and you refused to divulge it. She wooed me to get the recipe. I watched you and studied you for two weeks memorizing the exact combinations of spices and ingredients…and every small detail of your preparing it. Only two days back she got it exactly right… Now she says she won’t come here again. She also told me why she had paid attention to me. Offered me money…which I threw at her face…Like a fool I fell for her charms. I have violated my contract and I am scared… Please forgive me.’ With thousand apologies, Jatin. To what lengths would a woman go, if she had set her mind on something! Unable to mask my shocked expression, I handed over the letter to the maitre d’hotel.