Sunday, April 10, 2011
Between Cup and Lip: The Story of a Couple Who Wanted to Kiss
So, when they met after a gap of three years, what they decided and wanted to do was to kiss each other.
Though it was not a chance meeting, the circumstances in which they met after this gap was not conducive for a kiss. You may ask, why could not two people kiss each other when they meet after a long time? Kissing is not prohibited in this city or country.
They had decided to meet in a café near the museum. But both of them were impatient like the blazing summer sun. The stipulated time to meet was two in the afternoon. She had things to tend at home. And he had a very important seminar to attend.
Housewives and high profile corporate executives are in way lead the same kind of life. They are bored to their bones and at the same time when they review the things they find that they don’t have any reason to feel that their life is boring from any angle. Things keep them engaged.
Housewives are busy because they have awful team leaders at home. The assumed team leaders and other people go out as per their schedule and the housewives are expected to look after everything. Though they are equipped with several machines and servants, they need to involve in everything. They hold the key to everything and literally they keep the keys of everything around their waist and a lock too.
Corporate executives, if they are really high profile, find the worst enemies in their team heads. The bosses are always good (or supposedly good) because they run a company successfully as there are hardworking executives. When the success comes these bosses take away all the credit. The executives travel all over the world; develop gastric problems by eating erratically from different time and cultural zones. But they hold the key to the success, if not around their waist right in the middle of their groin.
Desperate people are desperate in a similar fashion. They drive rashly, they shout at people, if not they become deeply silent. The silence is so imploding that the whole world seems to have set into the mute mode. It is like watching the footage of some natural calamity again and again in a television which is kept in a glass cage or seen from a distance. You know everything about it but you don’t hear the new commentaries.
So desperately the woman comes out of her home leaving things to the hands of a maid servant whom she deems to be incapable of doing anything perfectly. The man somehow finishes his highly sophisticated lunch program as if he were going through a medical checkup, with anxiety and terror, while keeping a smile on his lips throughout the lunch. Skipping the attempts of some Korean delegates to speak to him further on the project that they were just discussing at the lobby before the lunch was served he rushes out to the streets and jumps into a taxi.
When you are ready to meet a man, however busy you are you take special care to make yourself up. You look at the mirror twice. You adjust your sari in such way that your curves are concealed while revealing their full potentials. You don’t want others to peep into your cleavage but you definitely want the man whom you are going to meet to take notice of it. You want your fragrance to be known by the man. You want the man to know how tenderly you have prepared yourself for this meeting.
But a man is not like that. He is just rash. He knows that he perspires profusely in a taxi, which has a conked off air conditioner and stinking seats. He does not mind to eat an additional mint to ward off the smells that he acquired while swallowing his lunch. He may absent mindedly roll his deodorant on his wrists or under his shirt the moment he feels that the stink of his own body becomes too much for himself. Then he may light a cigarette while thinking about you.
As they are desperate, in more or less the same way they reach the same spot at the same time, well twenty minutes before the stipulated time. The place they had decided was not right in the middle of the street, in front of a cinema. It was an in a coffee shop near by. Hence, the romantic feel of a meeting after a gap of three years becomes too realistic and they stand in the middle of the pavement right in front of the movie hall like two marooned sailors looking out and waving a flag at another vessel passing by the horizon. Their minds have already reached out to the other, saved him or her. They have already taken her or him into the arms and have kissed deeply several times right on the lips and then into the mouths.
But nothing happens. They stand in the middle of the sidewalk like two stupid souls accidentally meeting outside their prescribed graves. They smile like two patients who have just got discharged from the same hospital where they had been treated for the same disease called anemia. Their faces go red first and then paper white. They tremble and shiver like two dogs caught in an unexpected rain. Then they grin at each other, extend their hands to have a formal shake hand (which they had been disapproving to do ever since they connected themselves almost a year back over some social networking site). She had once told him while chatting that when they met first time after the gap of three years they should never touch each other formally. He also thought the same at the same time and had sent a smilie back as an answer.
But they shook hands and then proceeded to the café without uttering a word. Everything was happening as if they were enacting a script they had learned by heart long back. They walked silently, entered the cool zone of the café and looked at the farthest corners so that they could steal some private moments. To their dismay, so many desperate souls were on prowl in the city that day and they had already invaded all the farthest corners in all the available decent cafes in the city.
So they stand at the counter, find places at the high chairs and order for two cups of coffee. The boy who is in the red uniform with a black apron mans the counter and from nowhere he looks like a boy who could do such jobs. They look at the guitar hanging from the wall of the café and think that the boy must be a musician by night. And they think the same thing at the same time and the smiles that they exchange the message that they have been thinking the same to each other. The boy takes their order and the slip that comes out of the printer is taken out mechanically by his nimble hands and goes automatically behind the counter where a fabricated table with coffee machines in place.
Boys move around as if they were apparitions while they sit looking at each other with all those passions vying to take upper hand in their minds and the reason chiding them to behave. So in the silent acts of passion and taming, their lips quiver and they smile at eacj other and like any other housewife and an executive of a big company do during those occasions lower their shades from their heads across their eyes. They hide from each other by the darkened goggles and let the rest of the faces speak to each other through the twitching of muscles and minuscule hairs seen highlighted by the yellow light of the café now further deepened by the color of the shades over their eyes.
The stereo in the café belts out some song which many other people in the café seem to be enjoying thoroughly. But for them it sounds like some hopeless DJ playing a trick on the grooving couples in a dingy dance floor in an ill reputed discotheque. Then again they smile and man finally asks about the promises that they have made each other while their stolen moments of chatting. She tells him that she does not remember anything of those promises and she laughs at her own joke. He too smiles and the smile looks very pathetic now on his face. Soon her face also turns serious and now they think about getting out of the place.
He needs to catch a flight in another four hours. She promises to drop him at the airport. But there is a problem. His luggage is in the hotel room and also he needs to sign certain documents with the local company which has hosted the meeting. Besides, he cannot breach the protocol of his company by deserting his colleagues in a hotel lobby and going alone to the airport with a damsel in love. So they decide to make it out in the car. One kiss. One kiss. Just to keep the promise.
She decides to drive him around the city within the one hour available in his hands. They get out of the café without heeding much to collect the change from the nimble fingered boy. They walk out and she leads him to the park a few yards away from the café. They get into the car. Like the café, the car interior also provides them with a make belief world of protection and perfection
With unprecedented driving skills that are shown only by desperate people at desperate moments she takes the car out of the parking lot and drives into the streets where the sun beats down its heat with some kind of vengeance. But form inside the car, the light outside look tamed and bearable though they find the people wrinkling their muscles around their noses to ward off heat. Many of them are drinking water. Many foreigners walked like creatures without shadows.
First she takes a turn to the right and after driving for a few minutes she reaches to a police station and smiling at him, she reverses the car and enters into another lane. She drives on and they were now desperate to fulfill their promise. She drives to left then to right and wherever they stopped they felt the people of the city came around the car to peep inside just to know things are happening as per the rule there.
They drive through the main road. At the traffic junction, street urchins come around the car to sell different things. After driving for half an hour towards the south of the city, she stops under a tree and turns her towards him. He too turns his head. Before they could do anything, someone knocks at the window and asks them to move from there as a huge truck wants to take a right turn and their car obstructs its smooth passage. She revs up the engine as if all those bad words came to her mind at that moment were transferred into the engine through the acceleration of gas and moves the car towards the infinity of people and vehicles milling in the next turn.
The watches in their wrists show the same time and they look at each other as if they were destined to be hanged with in five minutes. He tries to reach out his hand to her hand at the steering wheel and suddenly he finds two police men riding parallel to the car in their motor bike. Shocked by the sudden intervention of the state in the vicinity of their private life, he with a shudder takes his hand away from her.
His mobile rings and he speaks into it. The color of his face changes. He looks at her and tells her that he should be dropped somewhere near the hotel where the seminar is being conducted. She without questioning why he should be off right then, speeds up the car towards the hotel. The message from the phone disturbs him. Something has gone terribly wrong in the memorandum of understanding. The local company is not ready to sign it with his company. They want to clarify certain points and he should be there in another ten minutes to save the situation.
He went on explaining things. She drove with a smile. The slanting rays of sun seeped into the car and they brightened her face from the right side. He could see the evening sun at the tip of her nose from that angle. She was still smiling but he could not see what her eyes were saying as they were covered by the brown shades.
She stopped the car at the porch of the five star hotel where the seminar was on. She, without letting him know glanced around whether her husband by any chance could come there for some reason as they frequented this hotel’s restaurants and bars by the weekends. None of her acquaintances was there. She sighed and looked sternly straight out of the windscreen. Then something happened in her. She turned to him and pushed her right hand into his hands which he had been holding out impatiently for sometime.
See you soon, she said. Yes, he said and rushed at the main door of the hotel where a tall man in royal uniform was holding the panels opened for him for some time.
She pressed on the gas. The car gathered momentum. She fished out her mobile from the purse and called, “Laxmi Bai….aaj dinner keliye aaloo parantha banao. And make some kheer too.”