21 March

The Prospect has taken over all other mundane arrangements for the party, dismissing my feeble protests as unnecessary politeness. Comma assures me that The Prospect will never enjoy the party if he has not slogged over it. So it is better for me to conserve my energy to look my beautiful best.

So when High BP insists that I meet him in town to order a special cake for Ogre from a special lady that only the initiated few know about, I can’t plead lack of time. There has been no reference so far to the could-have-been-kiss.

High BP seems preoccupied in the car. I thought l would take the train back from Grant Road station after we were through with the choosing and ordering of the cake, but High BP says he had “work to look into” at his Juhu flat, since the party is being held there. I decide to stop resisting all this male solicitousness that is coming my way. But now it seems that High BP might be regretting his kind offer. Maybe I should have shown more keenness to going back home by train.

Me: “Are you all right? You really didn’t need to do this. But thanks. I know Ogre will love the cake.”

High BP: “I know that too. I’ve never had a birthday party without Nawaaz Aunty’s cakes. But no thanks. In fact, I ought to thank you for inviting me to the party.”

Me: “Really?”

High BP: “I didn’t expect it.”

Me: “And why not?”

High BP: “Well, you barely seem to tolerate me. And I’m sure, being extra-nice to clients by inviting them home, is not part of your brief at Neem.”

Me: “Well, since the party is in your home, we could hardly not invite you, is it?”

I know he would like me to say that he is not just a client anymore but also a friend, and so on. But he knows that well enough, so why ask? Surprisingly, High BP does not continue in this vein, as he would usually have. But keeps quiet again.

Me: “Is something bothering you? You are … ”

High BP: “Appi, that kiss …”

Me: “It’s OK. Forget about it. I …”

High BP: “No, it’s not that. I don’t want to forget about it.”

Me: “Then?”

High BP: “Look Appi, I know my life is a mess right now. So I’m not asking for anything. But do you think we could see each other once things are sorted out, once I’ve got my divorce and all?”

Me: ” … ”

I gabble, gag, gape, gaze, gawk, gulp.

High BP: “Please, please don’t look so stricken. I didn’t want to say this to you, but I couldn’t help myself. I really, really like you, Appi. But if you want, I’ll take back my words, and say I didn’t mean any of it, OK?”

Me: “And I’m supposed to believe that?”

High BP: “Believe what? That I like you?”

Me: “No, that you don’t mean any of it?”

High BP shakes his head miserably.

High BP: “Of course, I mean it. But I’m an idiot for telling you. What’s the use?”

Me: “I don’t know. Could I … could we talk about this later? Let me think about it?”

High BP turns and looked at me, amazed. Perhaps he hasn’t expected me to even promise that much. I feel dazzled and flattered. But also eager to reach home, and hide behind Comma and The Prospect and their good cheer.

High BP: “Whatever happens, we’ll still be friends, right? Appi?”

I nod.

What else? The ride back home is sufficiently awkward enough to seem interminable.

1. He clears his throat, I clear mine.
2. He hums off-key, I clear my throat.
3. I cough, he clears his throat.
4. I clear my throat, he clears his throat.
5. OK, you get it.


6 Comments on “21 March”

  1. ano says:

    Loved the 6G 🙂

  2. desi-at-large says:

    I hope he was humming Tum ko mohabbat ho gayi hai humse….

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