Saturday, April 27, 2013

"What will you get me?", he had asked months back over one of those called-in meals of thick curried chicken and fat rotis.
She snapped back saying something he couldn't decipher with her mouth full, while licking her fingertips."Shit", he probably assumed.

Over the months, the meals grew lesser and snapping increased-only this time, it didn't end in bad druken jokes and his silly inebriated giggle but with either one slamming the phone on the other's face or with one spending nights staring at the ceiling waiting for the phone to buzz. The silence eventually got filled in with time and its usual melodrama- there were tears of course, and a lot of shouting till it was realised that there was nothing left to fight for, fight about or fight against. Everything was lost by then, everything was decided upon- that was your fault, this was mine; this is your shirt and that book is mine; this was much how much I owed you and you should pay me back for that. Life was being written off under columns again, distributed in sturdy boxes neatly labelled with a clear hand.
Traffic sounds, wedding party laughs, drunken crying, washing machine whirring, egg beating- they all took turns in filling up the radio silence that followed. Each doing its best to assure the person that there was really no silence left.
Her plane departed on time. The tears were really unnecessary, she thought. She landed in the new city and roamed around for days-stopping at a coffee shop here and eating a plate of Fish and Chips there. Then there was that bookshop which was nothing like what she had seen before- nothing like the sanitised ones with vacuum cleaned carpets and freshener scented air she was used to. This was a conglomerate of only shelves-with books living on them. Not books scrubbed clean to live their lives in alphabetical order, but books that breathed, lived and had time leaving behind its dust on them. They didn't smell of dead canned flowers this time but that musty smell that rides up your nose and and becomes one with every inch of your being- that one that tiptoes into your brain and reminds you of log cabins, rainy afternoons and cups of tea. She drew a line in the dust with the tip of her index finger and felt her blood rush to her brain. Her face was flushed and the hair on her arms stood on their ends as she felt a tingle ride down the nape of her neck.

And then she smiled. "This", she whispered.