I feel, therefore I am...

Friday, January 19, 2007

The meeting

Mr. Aloof and Ms. Melodrama have a unique ability; they can turn any topic under the sun into a fight. If their plans to meet do not end up in a “cannot meet” sms, then they have quite eventful meetings. This is an attempt to look back at one such event…

Saying anything to Mr. Aloof is like running in an obstacle race. Every word has to overcome logical, linguistic, moral barriers before it is actually uttered. At the same time she has to listen carefully to what is being said, not ask stupid questions, take the right things seriously, and avoid making unnecessary issues. When all this mental acrobatics is being performed, Mr. Aloof sits across the table leaning back and enjoying it. His almond eyes are fixed coldly at her. Now this is hardly the time for making interesting observations about people. But Ms. Melodrama cannot help noticing how his eyes squint when he is deep in thought; how they shrink to chinks on his face when he laughs a hearty laugh; how his husky voice deepens; how that podgy hand rummages in the crust of already ruffled hair and scratches automatically at regular intervals…At times she is almost afraid that his eyes might read her mind and catch her red handed with some stupid, wandering thought. But luck smiles on her at the right time. The phone rings and Ms. Melodrama gets time enough to gather her scattered brain. She realizes how useful technological interventions can be at times…

Mr. Aloof attacks food the same way he attacks people. Since talking and eating both happen to involve the use of mouth, he cannot choose a more urgent task between the two. As a result, certain processes which should be restricted to the private recesses of the oral cavity are open on display. Sometimes the food reciprocates his aggression; morsels of food become airborne and perch right on his T-shirt.

Everything is fair in war but certainly not dipping one’s dirty fingers in the glass of water to nurse the stain. At this point, Ms. Melodrama, a passive observer until then, actively involves herself in Operation Stain Removal. She hails a waiter, takes some tissue papers and asks Mr. Aloof in sheer disconcertment “Is this T-shirt worth so much care?”

A question replies her question.

“Are you to decide what this T-shirt is worth?”

Embarrassment, patience, anger, patience, exasperation, smile…

In a moment Ms. Melodrama tastes 100 emotions (not on the menu card of course!), swallows down bitter memories with a sip of bitter coffee and another melodramatic thought dies untimely death…..

They talk about their trips to different places and the conversation rests at his question “What color was the Rajdhani Express in which you traveled?”

She senses an overture of the foot in the mouth.

“Was it blue? I frankly did not notice.”

“How can one not see the color of the train?”

A smile that says,” May God bless all those who have failed to notice the color of their trains!”

Dear Mr. Aloof, Ms. Melodrama may not remember important details like the way govt. chooses to paint the trains. But she certainly remembers that a certain book was kept in the cupboard next to the bed, that someone likes Bengali sweets, that a friend will like and need a particular book…She might fail to make an impression but she will surely make a difference to all those around her with her tiny memory.

Interestingly, till the end the crucial question of the color of Rajdhani Express remains unanswered.

Ms. Melodrama wants Mr. Aloof to read her beloved book. So she gifts it to him. Since there is nothing special about the cover, she wraps it up in a coarse, bottle green hand made paper and then doodles a design. But Mr. Aloof is not carrying his backpack so she wonders how he would carry it home while riding a bike. The next moment Mr. Aloof thrusts the books down his T-shirt. Two books now rest peacefully against his paunch. He assures her, “Don’t worry the books are safe.” Now, her mind is busy imagining a big fat kangaroo on a bike with books in the belly bag and how the rough cover would tickle him every time he rides over a speed breaker etc. But what she actually blurts out is: “Now the books are yours. Do as you like. I am not worried.” How can she blame him when he says “You have become melodramatic in all these years”…

Before you actually take Ms. Melodrama for an angel, just out of a Samuel Richardson novel, stoically bearing the torments from a villain called Mr. Aloof, then you need to be told something else. She is a nut next only to Mr. Aloof himself. She asks him to write a testimonial for her and rejects it, does not listen to the CD she had asked him to make, just turns down CCDs in Parle, keeps finding faults, sending pirated songs, mushy messages, poems, and write ups, even if that means being called a stubborn, mean melodramatic issue-maker…

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