Monday, February 12, 2007

A Card from ump!..hmnn!..gulp!...Sunil?

Every Sunday, Sheela aunty would check her mail box. The rusty mail box, in the centre, middle row of the mailboxes, at the entrance of the apartment’s lobby, was hers. She had a small key, hidden away in deep pocket of her purse. She had neither time nor interest to open the box everyday. What was the need any way? All it contained, now days, were the promotion offers and junk mail. Sunday was reserved for spring cleaning, attending to odds and ends and sorting from such junk mails for some discounts and offers at the stores and supermarkets.

Combing her grey and black hair with her bony fingers, she wriggled it round to form a bun, and sat down on an easy chair to sip a cup of coffee. “Lemme see, wat offers dey have, dopar ko kuch shopping-hopping ho jae?” she mumbled as she slowly and carefully, stretched to pick the bunch of papers and envelops from the centre table.


She looked at the colored postcard that had slipped through the pile of sheets onto the floor making that soft peculiar sound.

Hai Rabba! Yeh kya hai?’ she mumbled as she bent down to pick up the post card. ‘Oh God! What is this?’

Wah! Kya tasweer hae! Lovely! ” she mumbled as she saw the card. ’Wow! what a picture’

She flipped the card around to see a name of the sender

Haey, yeh kya? Kaun hai? Sunil? Yeh Kya mazak hae?” she grumbled as she looked in my direction. ‘Oh what’s this? Who is this? What Joke is this?’

I looked up from my books, in her direction, to meet her gaze, irritated by her loud grumbling. She beckoned me.

Kis choree ne tumhe yeh card beja hai? eh? bolo?” she said as she flagged the card in front of her. ‘Which fellow has send this card to you? Tellme?’

Oh no! Aunty! Is that for me?’ I said as I jumped from my seat and ran to grab the card from her to examine it.

The scenic beauty captured on small, two by four, glossy, post card was astounding! The snow covered mountains, a cable car, masked people, dressed from head to toe in body suit, gliding through the wavy path, snaking down the tracks, balancing their trip with long poles. The scene brought back those beautiful memories of long time ago, of my trip to Switzerland with my school friends during Christmas holidays.

I flipped the card to see the name.

Neatly scrawled was the phrase ‘Wish you were here’ and signed ‘Sunil’

‘Sunil? Did I know any Sunil?’ Oh yes! Now I remember! Maybe, it must be that SuniL with dimpled cheeks and fair skin, who would smile and go blinkblinkblinkblink every time he would see me. How sweet of him to remember me on his trip. Or..ump…it must that Sunil, the one with long hair and pimpled skin. Oh! How I hated his hair band. Who ever heard of men wearing hair band like that? Ugh..I hope it is not him. Er...Er…Mmmn…lemme see….I think It must be that Sunil, the one I had met at a party, last year. My friend had told me that he lived abroad and was just visiting Mumbai for his holidays. We had spoken briefly, nothing personal, but yes we had talked over the cup of coffee…but did I give him my address?..umph..!

Kis choree ne tumhe yeh card beja hai? eh? bolo?” My aunt repeated, almost screaming now. When my aunt roars, she resembles a ogre, who has just come out from a deep sleep!

Sheela aunty, this card is from Sunil, Sunil uncle, don’t you remember Sunil uncle? The one with whom you had played a game of Bingo? Don’t you remember how he let you win the game, wohi Sunil uncle, Yaad aayah?” ‘remember?’

Haey? Sunil Uncle?..I don’t remember anyone of that man.. aey Rabba..kaun ho sakta hai?.... kooch bhi kaho, par card bada sundar hai…..hai na jaan? Who can it be? Whatever you say, it’s a beautiful card. Isn’t it so, love?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Be my Valentine.. No, No,….Nah!

Foolishly, wagging their tails,
On bare anatomy, drooling,
Under pretensions of being cool!

Senselessly, fishing senti,
love, meaningless words
into verses that drown them
into tear pools!

Sans brains, flushing
hard-earned dollars on
Chocolates, gifts, flowers, parties
that swing them on their
Butt on zero cash!

Excuse me! Nah!
It ain’t for me!
On Valentine day
I shall grab a sleep!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Table for three…in a library.

Hey Anu, Rohit needs help in Algebra, will you teach him some basics” Said Samira, brushing back her double-colored locks from her fair skin with the tips of her long fingers. Sameera and I would spend most evening together. We would gossip, laugh or simply be in each others company.

I was flattered. Rohit was older to me by 2 years and he wanted to learn Mathematics from me?

Yes, Of course. Why not?” I was most eager to help.

Oh! You are a Gem! Rohit will be so happy. You know, he finds Algebra, a boring subject and he really cannot concentrate. Maybe, if you show him some shortcuts and some easy methods, he might show some interest in mathematics and score well. Let us meet in the college library, tomorrow evening. Will that be fine?”

Yes. That will be fine. Five O’clock then. Meet me in the library.”

Oh no, you come to my house first then we will go together. Mom does not trust me. She never believes me if I tell her that I am going to the library in the evening. Maybe if she sees that I am going with you, she might not make such a fuss.”


I couldn’t believe that Rohit wanted to learn mathematics from me. Rohit, the handsome young man, I had noticed in the college canteen sometimes, when Samira and I dined in the snack bar. He would often greet us and sometimes have a cup of tea on our table. Always well dressed, he wore a gold wrist watch and branded clothes and behaved like a Hindi film hero. In fact, the girls jokingly referred to him as ‘hero’. I wondered if he had ever noticed me. I mean in that special way? I wondered if he liked me and was just making an excuse to know me.

I stayed up late night to revise my algebra, jotting down some important formulae. I desperately wanted to impress Rohit.

Samira and I waited for Rohit at the far corner table in the library. We were busy browsing through the stack of books when Rohit came and sat next to me and opposite to Samira. The strong smell of men’s perfume tingled my senses. I felt the blood drain though my face as I fumbled to open the algebra book.

Let’s start from the very beginning.” I stammered as I spread the worksheets and books on the table.

He smiled and looked closely at the worksheets. He stretched his arms across the table and his finger brushed softly against Samira’s arm.

If x equal 2 and y equals 6, then x plus y equals 8.” I whispered, once again, as I adjusted by gold rimmed specks.

It had been over 15 minutes since I had started my tutorials. I was losing my patience. I was continuously distracted by their restlessness. It started with a soft brush of his fingers against Samira’s arm, then, it had been the locking of their fingers, then, a soft chuckle, and now they were playing footsies! What am I doing here? Teaching algebra to this duffer? Oh Gosh! Sameera had used me to spend some time with her lover? No wonder! Her mom doesn’t trust her! What do I do? I felt the blood drain through my face, again, but this time for a different reason, I was embarrassed. I looked around to see if anybody else was watching me, the escort to this lovey-dovey meeting. What will be their next move? I mentally measured the dimensions of the table. It was big enough to accommodate two people in an uncomfortable position. What if…What if...they lose control? What if…they decide to spread in front of me on this narrow table? Will I have to find my algebra worksheets from the pile of clothes in my lap?.....Damn!

Sameera! You Idiot! How dare you take advantage of me?” I wanted to shout. I contemplated going behind book shelf to push the shelf from the other side with all my might. Let all the books tumble and fall on them. I will suppress a grin if two bare bodies would rise from the debris of the books and loose sheaf and take a bow from the confused readers in the library. But what if they get hurt? The shelves were made of teak wood. Oh no! I can’t possibly do that!

‘Or maybe, I should sent SMS to Sameera’s mom, and invite her to come to library and witness the scene.’ I thought as I fondled with my cell phone in my pocket. This one time, I would relish the surprised expression of her mom and her loud voice that would resonate within high arcs of the library. Sameera and Rohit would then pledge never to visit the library again. But what if, her mom blames me for deceiving her? I had requested for her permission for Sameera to go with me to the library.

What should I do? Think! Think! I must think before it’s too late!

Er..ummph….Rohit… hmmn…listen..Samira….I need to go for a minute….er…. be right back!....okay?” I said, as I faked a forced smile.

I quickly left the library and disappeared from the college grounds into the crowded streets of Mumbai.

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