The air was thick with spice, smoke and muted percussion.
Even a kind of silence that was necessary in a place like this one. Worn redleather cushions and bamboo walls, glass tables and pure white shirts tonight at the bar. The night smelt nice. edgy, yes, but nice. Almost.
She wore a little blue silk kurta blouse thing with a belt from the Titanic. Where did you get those things ? Did her mother lace her in , what was she looking for ? Not too gone yet, anyplace between 28 and 40. And a face cold with disappointment.
No, there was no one with her , just the empty seat. She was not drinking, or looking. Not even waiting. I had my own share of non thoughts that evening ; the food was good. I wasnt looking either, not for myself, but at her, yes.
If Moj noticed he didnt say anything, but here we were and in any case this isnt about me.
Am grateful for Tender mercies new every morning. For Bathwater and healing from SwineFlu. For my Paints and for the babies. everyones!For Keyboards and Living . For Neem Toothpaste and Good Life milk packets.
I remember when Dadda had to scold the milkman to deliver the pail on time and the milk was blue-thin and the tea reeked of goats, but Tara Bai my granda insisted goats were better than cows any day, cerebrally. Where she got her info I do not know, but I adored Tara Bai my G’ma.
She had every thing a Grandma should have, esp Pizzaz. She was also a Light house compound wife and had that quality these Girls have. A certain Dare that made every travel an adventure. Which is why I kept that Blue diary with me all these years : A Chronicle of many Lives. Oneday I must show what I wrote there. You ‘d never believe what a little Asian-Indian can dream of, and look where it got me, because Tara B and my Ma believed in the power of Prayer and that Miracles did happen bigtime, if you just believed.
I wasnt thinking all these things that early evening, in the Place , with kids around us gurgling on aroma-hookahs. For the life of me I cannot remember what it was called, but there was that amazed new thing between Moj and me, maybe all the recent challenges had contributed, hard to tell.
What rankled were the dark wells of hatred in the other woman’s eyes.
Have you seen someone with no one left to love ? Like the loss was not worth a re take. Its terrifying I guess to lose like that. Couldnt help wondering if she had a home to return to. Would there be someone waiting ?
Moj saw the questions in my face and asked, “ Why are you going there ? “
I didnt know, how could I. But she was just sitting there, not even waiting and it was something I hadnt seen before.
The Stir fried rice and prawn had Smoke in it, I said to Moj and he burst out laughing in that characteristic full throated way that had people turn and look at the two of us sitting there like people on a date for the first time. “ Ofcourse it has smoke in it, ” he said slowly , “ look at this place…”
In a strange way it felt like that, about the Date, I mean. It had been a while, with the three kids and every body growing upall at once, even us.
Yes it was good to savour life and see how the whole world was changing, even the two of us. To lean into each other on those red leather covers and watch ourselves breathe in a whole new environment….
gratitude and recent pain, old laughter and new curiousities clustered around us like old familiar mates…I needed to cherish Moj all over again, but there she was , and I was almost guilty of too much joy. Do miracles happen for others ? Can one pray for a Stranger to experience love all over again ? Does God answer such prayers ? What if there had been serious injury and she was not the Victim ? What if she did not deserve to be loved, or even love again ?
Then he walked in with probably three strides, and you could tell she was half afraid – half relieved, but that he was no stranger. It was there, in the way he hung back, waiting for her to just get off that thing and come home. That was the word he was saying without saying. Home.
How much happens without words. Just think, if we all just hung around waiting for words, thered be nothing actually said or finally done.
A deep happy sigh still lingers when I remember the way that womans face changed ………………………………………………………………………………………………….
When my friend Ari first heard about Blogs he asked if it were some kind of cave…
Ari would say something like that , him living off a sleeping bag somewhere in the konkan , even Goa, but I dont where right now.
He’s incredible. Exactly that. You ‘d never believe a life lived on those terms, the laughter in those piercing black eyes veiling things we never discuss. Why should we?
Somethings are never said because words just stop short . Maybe thats the way things go, you know, a life lived, love lost, regained, then lost again, to a totally unrelated Cause.
No , the last time we met, there was no soul search discussion about things best left to their archives..
Ari had bought himself new slippers. And a new vocabulary. I mean , got one. Said he was getting confused with sms verbatim andthe way things actually were. Numerals and alphabets were now words, he muttered and it was clear he was thrilling to the new ways of Life. He grumbled about the landlady’s excessive drinking and the rent. The Price of dal and the strange infinity of TV channels..
I didnt dare ask about Lar. He knew and grinned.
“She’s fine. Somewhere in Lucknow. ..”
“No wedding banns, no ? Yes ?”
We laughed at the yes/no of Indian- ness and so many unrelated things.
Then as the Lassi arrived, he talked about the cancer. It was there. Remission and all, it was there. 10 years now , and it was like a friend you loved and hated. You knew the way it felt in the morning , when it was sleeping, when it would wake. When it was time to call Doc and when it was time to pack your stuff in the hospital bag. Phone numbers just in case, and discard the underwear you didnt want anyone to notice in your rooms, when you were gone…. you know… ”
I love the clarity in his eyes. Like clear pools and you can see right to the bottom, and its so crazy beautiful you dont want to leave, you dont want to pry …
maybe just one moment longer..
He pays the bill and I can see he still writes. Something about the way the fingers are.
” When are we seeing your book Ari ? ”
He speaks a whole paragraph without saying anything at all / like he were shy and proud , scared and more than slightly cunning..
“When d you think ! ”
It was not a question. I knew it would be soon. LIke I knew there would be that wedding anytime.
His cell blinked. It was her. Somehow I knew it was about a sari , and a particular date..
He was blushing again.
INVISIBLE STANZAyeah i know
so often they come on out
all wrong , because
one of us, had too much
ummmm thats another