Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mumbai freeze-frame: The Date

15. The Date

Late evening in the mall. The crowds throng the light fantastic. Away in the milling distance, an ewe boy looking helpless – he is there to greet a queen. He walks hither and thither, as a lamb led to the slaughter.

She arrives.

The abrupt loss of breath. The painful rumbling in the bowels. The dawn of dread. She is better equipped – a mocking, self-effacing vision in violet. She takes charge. Tickets, popcorn, hand in the other’s dripping palm. They walk in together. Words, meaningless, exchanged – ‘I liked him from the last one… She’s looking fat.’

The scrutiny dims with the light. It is a romance and not a bad one - A city held aloft to the pyre of civilization – a couple in skin incandescent. Cars, bars, streets, passion. Families, love, paradise momentarily lost but forever regained. It ends happy, happy.

They leave sated – fulfilled, but as yet not given to abandon. The food court – couples eating, children playing, counters filling. ‘A sub?’, ‘Maybe a couple.’ It is a small table, top crisscrossed with reflective sheen at intervals. They eat silently, thoughtfully, considering. It ends well - at the same time for both. They see the sign they have been expecting.

The aimless wandering through the floors on floors on floors – shirts, books, flowers, chocolate. They can ill afford to indulge, but the lounging is free and that is enough, for now. Later outside, they stop, look around, kiss surprised. The sun has already set, but not on them – no, no, no, no, no - not on them.

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