26 NovemberPosted: September 24, 2010
So-On calls: “Hey sweetheart, how are you?”
The judiciary of India comes to a standstill for a few minutes. I stop practicing how to shrivel up Act 278/1989/High Court of Jallandhar with my intense pondering, and push the papers into the drawer for another session, another day.
He’s called after 6 days, 7 hours and 18 minutes. I make a red heart on the calendar, write, “Call from S-O” in it, and keep doodling more red hearts in the date square, while I talk to him.
Now he says: “Want to come for a violin concert on Saturday?”
I don’t much like the violin, but So-On does, and my heart’s still squishy, soft, sweet, like a roasted marshmallow, because of the “sweetheart”, and he’s called after 6 days, so, I say, “Yes”. As if I would say anything else.
So-On was 15, I was 10, when we first met.
I had been sniveling on the stairway. Ogre was so sweet to Etcetra and me, that I felt guilty crying for The Beautiful One in front of her. So-On was in muddy whites, cricket bat in hand. He smelled of the mud at Oval Maidan and sweat.
His first words to me were: “You have a bit of snot hanging out of your right nostril.”
Now, why that should have prompted me to fall in love with him on the spot, I don’t know. I mean, who down the ages has been able to decipher the nature of love?
He fished out a grimy handkerchief and handed it to me. I wiped my nose. He sat down beside me, sipping water from a bottle while eyeing me critically to see I did the needful. I handed back his handkerchief. He crumpled it, and shoved it back into his pocket, and began banging his cricket bat against the stairway.
His eyes were caramel brown and his face was caramel brown. His hair was as straight as my doll’s. I could have kept looking at him for a while but his Ayah yelled down the stairway from 3 flights above, “Baba, come home. Mummy is looking for you.”
He grinned at me, and ran off, his feet pounding on the wooden stairs, the bat clattering behind him. I sat there for a few more minutes, thinking of his smile.
13 years on, I’m still thinking of his caramel brown eyes, his caramel brown face, his straight hair, and his smile.
I doodle another red heart on the calendar. What shall I wear on Saturday?