Monday, July 25, 2005

Ruminations from Elsewhere

She has come with her friends. They look happy. They look full. No chinks. No doubts. No entry. He too is happy, when she is absorbed and oblivious. Then he can comfortably withdraw from the happenings around him, forget the tension, and convert the café into a 3D cinema screen.

She smiles a half-smile. Bittersweet. Tangy. Her friends feel the reason. They comfort her with a knowing quietude. She exhales. The smoke flows like a sigh. She looks. The screen is pierced. And he remembers scenes from another time, another land. This little squirrel that he runs after. This sparrow that watches him running in vain. But he knows, and the sparrow knows that he is running for fun, the destination is the journey. The girl that wants him to catch the squirrel for her. The girl does not know that he just wants to run. The girl that realises that after she grows up. The girl that still wants him to catch the squirrel for her. The girl that still makes him run. The girl he ran across three continents for. The girl he got married to.

He suddenly feels tired of running after the squirrel. He desperately looks for the sparrow. But there are so few birds in the land around him today.

He forces himself back to the screen in the café. A cigarette dies in her fingers. She lights another. Her friend sitting next starts another story. Everyone hears. Everyone laughs. She too. He is happy that she is not looking. Affords him freedom. He notices that in this land they do not share cigarettes. Maybe close friends do. He remembers the time he shared cigarettes with his friends. He had once yearned to do so with another girl. He never could. She never would smoke. They got married eventually.

This is dangerous, this game, this woman in the café, this no-one-to-him, telling him about his unrequited longings.