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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Something, again

The next time he goes to the café, it is different.

The smoking room regulars are all eyeing him askance. He feels that they all want to say something, but cannot because of the wall of obstinate non-being that he has built around himself over the last few days, sulking in his corner. He checks his fly. It is fine. Then what?

The café man comes up: Is that really you, man? He is still befuddled. The man explains. His secret has been discovered. His blog has been mentioned. In a newspaper in the faraway land where he was born. It said that the city still owns him. And, by some quirk, someone, who knew someone who had heard from someone who had received the link from someone who had read it, was a regular at the smoking room.

While he is brooding over which one is dearer to him – his moment of fame or his lost secret, she enters. With a nervous gaze at him, she proceeds to her table. As she sits there fidgeting with her cigarette, they exchange looks, each one with more and more embarrassment. Finally she turns her back at him.

He tries reading the gazes. She probably does not know. She is not a regular here. But she still carries the same doubt that she had, when she saw him typing. She did not fully believe him then, as she does not, now. It is that doubt that breeds the hesitation in her. On the other hand, he is not sure whether he wants her to know either. But this discomfort pains him.

Why doesn’t someone else tell her? Why doesn’t, at least, someone in the whole crowd care to realize that she is the one?

Why is it just a story to everyone else in the room?

Friday, July 08, 2005


He feels numb these days. The cafe is there. But she is not. Weird, because he never felt sapped waiting at the cafe for her before he had met her. Those days, it was the search that sustained him.

The wait is very different now. He goes to the cafe, sits at this one corner seat, sips the same coffee and stares at the blank laptop screen. Nothing registers. Nothing is conjured on the notepad. Nothing happens. Sometimes a blank longing wells up deep inside, but fizzles out again.

(BTW, in one of his half-deadnesses at the cafe, he typed this up. Not much happy with this either.)

On the other hand, his other life is getting back to normal. Regular times observed. Wife happy.