Let me first set the scene for you: Summer, Kent, Boys Boarding House.
The smell of BBQ fills the air together with the sound of boys laughing whilst chucking a rugby ball around the backyard. White marquees erected all around acting as a shelter for the food and drinks as well as a place for the teachers and leavers to socialize.
What’s the occasion? It was the much anticipated leaver’s barbecue event.
Surrounded by peers whom I have came to know as my brothers, the conversation was light but yet, meaningful. We talked about our future plans and where we’re heading off for university. It was all very bittersweet. In the midst of all that talking in addition to the rare England heat, I started to feel a bit parched.
I looked around the circle of people and saw that one of the teachers was holding an empty glass. To be polite ( also, to ensure I get a good reference when I leave but let’s just stick with polite shall we? ) I asked, ‘Miss, would you like a refill?’ she replied yes with a smile and asked for the Elderflower. As she handed me her empty glass I thought to myself, ‘that sounds interesting’.
I excused myself from the group and began walking towards oasis the drinks station. As usual, I opted for my go to thirst relief drink, the trusted orange juice. Alas! it was not to be, as they ran out of orange juice.
To my annoyance, the only drink they had left was the Elderflower. Now, I’m not one to be adventurous with my drinks but by this time, my throat was as dry as the Sahara desert so with clear disappointment. . . I said, “one Elderflower please.”
The student then proceeded to fill two glasses with ice and added a mint leaf on each of them. I thought to myself, ‘well that’s fancy’ and started to feel all kind of adventurous. He began pouring and my heart flutters. It all seems so Haram, but its as Halal as Halal can be.
The cordial had a pale ginger-ale colour to it and got paler as it was watered down with sparkling water. The drink fizzes and bubbles rose to the top with some of them getting stuck to the bottom of the floating mint leaf. It looked absolutely refreshing!
‘Here you go Miss,’ I said as I handed the teacher her refill. I took a sip of my drink. Somehow I expected it to taste similar to the rose syrup that you would get at a common supermarket in my home country, Brunei but boy was I wrong! As the cold liquid touched my tongue it enveloped my taste buds with a subtle floral taste and a slight tartness to it. The sparkling water gave it a bit of a fizz and a refreshing taste. It wasn’t sweet nor was it bland. Let’s just say. . .
It tasted like summer.
The ones where you find yourself in the middle of Hyde Park, lying down, people watching, staring at the clear blue sky. The ones where you let your thoughts run wild and have absolutely no care in the world. Where “Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful world” is your life motto.
Right then and there, under the white marquee pegged to the ground, was when I realized that I had fallen head over heels in love.
I had fallen in love with it all, the fragrant, yet subtle, taste of the elderflower, the way it fizzles and how the bubbles echo my sentiment by raising above the glass. One taste was all it took. That was my first glass of elderflower drink that day but definitely was not my last. It was the start of a beautiful and lasting love story.
My obsession with elderflower continued and latched on to me like a magnet.
It was unstoppable. Every restaurant I enter, my eyes began scanning through the drinks menu hoping to find my true love. Some days, we meet .. some days, my heart broke.
Recently, I found out that there were elderflower desserts too! My personal favourite is the elderflower cheesecake. The sweetness and the consistency of a cheesecake paired with the delicate hint of elderflower is definitely a perfect end for a meal. Whether it is just an elderflower drink or an elderflower dessert, I’d try them all and you definitely should too.
Trust me, ever wanted to fall in love again and again? Try it.
Rifhan Ideris is a freelance writer for Muslyfe. He believes in finding simple inspiration in the littlest things.