Chew on it.

Chances are all we have.

Tag: new beginnings.

Dog days

“Should I get the door?”

You look up, uncertain about the sounds you’ve just heard.

“I’m heading home now, should I leave the door open or are you staying the night?”

The implications of all she’s said may not have dawned on her, but you know now is not the time to mull over each of the tributaries of your thoughts. You nod, and thankfully she intercepts that as a “yes, leave it open” – because you’ll be stepping out of the office and locking up behind you, and trying, trying hard to get some of your old self back.

20 minutes later, the only force driving you out of the door and your reverie of self-pity is that you have to water the plants in your house the next morning. It’s a house now, you notice – it’s not a home. It’s a place where things you own are kept, not where you live and make things happen and cook and feel calm. You wonder when the difference set it. You know when.

Of course, the elevator has a couple of stops to make before you can get in. There’s Anita from upstairs repeating into her phone that, no she can’t hear you. Can you… can you please wait? She’ll text you back. You smile at each other, and in other circumstances you’d have asked her if she’s still planning on negotiating her yearly package with Nadira. But she’s too busy and you don’t care for small talk today.

The street outside is filling in. Friday evenings in this part of town mean that you have to be in the right place at the right time to be able to get anywhere. It wasn’t this way, you note – or perhaps it always was and you’re just in a place to really observe it. There’s a non-threatening drizzle in the air and you know that once it would light up your face and make the world spin with excitement around you but today, you note it as mild precipitation. The walk to your ATM is lined with restaurants. What is this love for Asian food that’s permeating the world? You’re more of a continental food buff but really, these many outlets? And always full, at that. What are people celebrating all the time? Is everyone just a terrible cook when left to their own devices? Is corn syrup really all there is to it? You don’t even know what corn syrup really does.

You pull your coat a little closer to your body having admitted not knowing to yourself. Maybe I should try more of these truth telling moments. Embarrass myself around me. That’d be a change.

The ATM’s a little dark inside as usual, so you peek in to see if there’s a light on the screen… and yes there is. You step in and wait for the card to process so you can get the month’s cash in hand and transfer the rest to your savings accounts. The screen flickers a little and your irritation with the world as it is spikes – irritating because now, your card’s stuck. Irritating because it’s been a relentlessly bad day. Did your tone show on the phone call? Let’s leave that for Monday, but right now, the card’s stuck in the slot and you need to calm down.

You wait for the screen to come alive, but this is it. Of all days, after months of slowing down in function and luminosity, this ATM machine has picked the day you had to put your 13-year-old dog down, to crash.

Of course.

You shrug, set your glasses back, and remind yourself to be objective about this. The ATM machine did not know about Binks. Cannot know about him. You need a solution. Is there a helpline on the machine? Ah yes. You wait for it to be answered. But the call disconnects of its own accord. Try again. Nope. And again and there’s no network, as if there’s a finite quantity of network and today you’ve used up yours. After a little juvenile push to the machine, you step out looking for distance from the issue and help in case anyone can lend you their phone.

The drizzle has taken the time you were in the ATM room to turn into a light shower. For the first time today, you smile. Or you don’t frown. Well, something in your face changes.

There’s a chap smoking a cigarette by the store display to your left. Shouting across a few feet isn’t nice, so you glance back into the ATM and run the distance of a few feet to ask for his phone. When he turns, however, you want to ask him a whole lot of other questions.

What’s your wingspan?

What happened under your eye?

Can I put my fingers in your hair?

You’re about to cross the line of polite staring-going-to-letching so you quickly blurt out something about the ATM-card-phone-yours.

“Is it stuck inside the machine?” Your toes need not have curled at that baritone.

You nod.

“Cancel the card. Sooner the better.”

He punches in a password as the two of you walk towards the ATM. He hands you the phone.

A conversation filled with a lot of verification details about your account and about the problem and about the card and about the ATM and about if you’re sure later, you stare at the phone in your hand. While the relief of the card being cancelled settles in, you realise that the phone owner is still inside the ATM space. His attention, however, is outside and on the rain. It’s even heavier now.

For a moment before you take in the updated meteorological status, you take in the muscle of his back. His grey jacket is stretched over the scapulae and his slightly unruly hair has a sheen of droplets. The ATM must have stilled because phone man turns back inside then.

Look up look up look up.

“It’s coming down heavy, isn’t it?”

Fuck your small talk. To add insult to self-inflicted injury, phone man grunts.

You stretch your hand with the phone in it. He takes it back and your breath gets caught in its shoelaces, so your thanks comes out too raspy.

That, unfortunately, gets him to look up.

“It’s alright.” Why’s the ground rumbling to his voice? “You look unwell” – uhm, okay, but now he knows this isn’t your usual face? – “Do you want to sit down?” –  there’s nothing to sit here but thanks for the suggestion, stranger – “Maybe have a coffee with me?”

“Yes, sure.”

What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?

“There’s one place, down the road, same side, needn’t cross. Three shops to the left. Don’t slip.” He opens the door and makes a dash for it.

 


Next in the series.

Dear Shri

Shriya’s birthday card, for her 19th birthday. Published December 29, late in the evening for her birthday the next day.

 

Remember about a 100 years ago?

When we used to fight and keep doing kaandi to show off?

I’d never Imagine we’d land up even talking. But haven’t I told you this about a hundred times already?

It’s also about those times we’d drag the mothers into the fight (tolerant, loving, doosre-bacche-ki-side-lenewaali mothers) and our brothers would equally participate in further dividing the C- Wing B-Wing rift.

Of course, like we’re doomed to never forget- the times I spilled J&J baby powder all over the bathroom, and WE spilled J&J Baby oil, and MY mother had to clean up.

Also the day we put those red seeds into MY fishtank – now I think all the damage was done to MY property.

The hundred thousand times we said we’d never ever EVER (This time mother promise) talk to each other, and then we virtually killed our mums every other week.

The window conversations. I’d give anything to transport you back to C-11 and talk nonsense (define sense?) on rainy days when we couldn’t hear what the other one had to say, and invariably landed downstairs.

Somewhere in the middle of all this- came in Maanty- the third lost musketeer- and unknowingly, we wrapped her up in us. Have we ever been separated since?

I couldn’t buy a birthday card for you (I’m obviously paying for your gift :P) but I hope you’ll forgive me for never having done that one thing.

Birthday parties at 6 in the evening and being the first bum at the door is eons ago- but I’d still line up first at your door, for any occassion, or any time you need me.

From boys who broke hearts, to ones who chased you to those irresponsible bums who came, took a walk with the hopeful hearts, and then went off with other prettier ones, to the ones where we thought we’d never stay with- but landed up with infinitely.

I’ll be there for everyone of those episodes.

And a promise renewed.

If you get pregnant before you’re wed, and if you don’t have anywhere to go- I’ll bring you in. Slap you 50 times a day, but bring you in. You’re my friend, and I’ll never leave you. Even if you get married to someone I don’t like and then mess it up or if you’re tired and need coffee and your mum isn’t at home- I’ll bring you in.

If you lose out on my number I’ll kick your protruding behind till it’s sore, but make you memorise it amnesia-proof.

If Nishi and you have a fight, and Nishi is right, I’ll yell at you, and never once let you feel like you’re right. But if it’s the other way around, we’ll both tear Nish apart and break her knees and make her apologise. Deal?

Even if I don’t like Hrithik, I will never morcha against him (unless he cuts trees and litters).

If Gautam grows thinner and gives you a complex, I’ll steal your money and feed him till he gets back to std.10 ka size.

If Bryce cracks private jokes with me, and we’re laughing at you, I’ll tell you what it was about after he goes. Ussko bhi thoda badhaayi maarni hoti hai na. Chadhaane ka. THEN we’ll kick his butt.

If Manasi’s filtration system fails at the last moment and she says stuff you could kill her for saying- well, there’s nothing I can promise you know, I have no solution to that.

If Clarie doesn’t shut up about stuff you don’t want spoken about, we’ll boycott him.

If Vivek and Deepa don’t keep in touch, we’ll send them hate mail.

If Collin gets too sarcy and funny and his jokes hurt your intestines, we’ll takle a scissor and chop his mane off.

And if I don’t stick to these promises, you’d better find another friend. Because, I am replaceable.

You aren’t.

Happy Birthday :)

Ordinary Lives- 6.

She couldn’t stop giggling.

His exasperation grew. Her dimple deepened with every rush of ideas in her head.

He rolled his eyes.

She took a deep breath and paused to look at him. The smile wouldn’t go off her face.

His familiar frown, the brown of his eyes turning into caffeine. The Silver has just started growing, and years later she’d be tucked in a bed, his cheek in her hand, his nose against her neck, and she’d talk about this night. Not this moment- not this pause between his question and her answer.

His pout began to grow and his hands went into his pocket.

“This is uncomfortable.”

She looked at him harder.

“In what way?”

“I’ve asked you something. You start giggling. I need an answer.”

She bit her lower lip to stop bursting into another spurt of giggles.

“What will I do when you’re gone?”

“What you do at home even today.”

“Dad gives me pocket money.”

“I earn enough to give you that and run the house.”

“And if I forget the keys?”

“We’ll keep one at the neighbour’s.”

What was with her? He was opening the door he’d never known had existed within him, and all she was doing was staring through him.

“Maid?”

“Already there.”

“Cook?”

“I know how to. You should learn too.”

“I don’t want to.”

“But I’ll be away.”

She’s saying a yes.

“Okay Ma said I had to learn any way.”

They looked around for the next question.

“Washing machine?”

It’s a yes.

“Yes.”

She started giggling again. This time, it was deliberate and slow. Like she was trying to say something.

“Don’t go away for too long.”

“I never want to.”

The curve of his lip choked her and she started coughing. He grabbed a glass of water and made her swallow it, rubbing her back, unable to believe his luck. His last straw had stayed rooted while he grabbed at it.

Her chin on his shoulder was the only reminder of anything else in the world existed apart from the light that flooded his eyes, and lit up his face.

He threw away the pills that night. She broke the news to her family.

Mahua

Take a break. Take a trip.

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Slowly making incisions in everything I come across

Raj Sivaraman

Part Time Genius, Full Time Hyperbolizer

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