Absolution (I)

Saturday mornings are generally not a thing of beauty. There is nothing much to celebrate except the small matter of some extra sleep, and there is not much to look forward to except an elongated period of solitude, and quietude. The clock is indisposed to help one feel normal — it either appears to be a participant in an equestrian sport, galloping towards an unforgiving noon before one even has a chance to awaken from a richly deserved slumber, or it decides to stall father time on its quest to subjugate all things humanly, thereby dilating every second that one chooses to stay awake to make a good fist of one’s contest with life. The day, as it passes one by, looks grimly at a face and decides that the tranquil state of affairs on the other end is an not an appropriate fitment in its grand scheme of things, and it gently nudges a mind into thinking the same. After all, there are few things as potent in transforming contentedness into existential dilemma as being pointed out by a passive onlooker that one isn’t utilising the life accorded to the one in any manner, significant or not.

While one cannot claim the universality of the above, one cannot contend its relevance either.

So while she lay asleep on their bed without a care in this world, the he was awake and restless, trying to piece a few things together, all the while hoping the seconds hand on the wall clock would at least move as many times a minute as he looked at the clock. One of the two people in the room was perhaps too short on expectations, and thus massively over-gratified on account of that previous night, while the other too consumed with matters outside of his bed to have ever given a solid consideration to the act itself. It could have been the thought of that definitively good-bye moment and the anxiety of life after that; it could have been a general mistrust arising out of the habit of his partner to exact passionate love-making on account of innumerable final good-byes; it could simply have been the result of a tiring day at office. The lack of sleep was nothing new for him, but that he was awake in another’s company was not very comforting to him. This was a first at his place. All this while, it had always been an assertive “Your place!”

He is not a smoker, so when people talk about cigarette after sex, he gets confused, like he got confused last night. He is not very fond of alcohol either, so when people assume he lacks the fun / celebratory spirit, he loathes them. His room barely has belongings — he lives out of a suitcase most times, partly because he has shifted five times in five years, and does not want to spend a lot on his accommodation. There is a small almirah for a wardrobe and all things precious. The only furniture other than the bed is a reclining chair with plush leather upholstery. There is an abandoned gas stove in a desolate corner of what could be his kitchen area. The toilet is particularly clean, all things considered — he does not want surprise visits turning unpleasant. One of the three walls, which is also the differently coloured one, has the aforementioned clock — a tiny time keeper fully in sync with the overall aesthetic of the place. The same wall has a few hooks for his neat clothes, and a massive Led Zeppelin poster. It could once have been some shade of red. Everything else is white — the two other walls, the floor tiles, the bed sheet, the paint on the door. Except nothing really is white anymore. The chair is lined up against the french window, and the curtain is drawn to prevent voyeuristic pleasures to the neighbours.

He has been awake for one full hour. He has an urge of kissing her, but he has been resisting the same for over an hour now.

As she sleeps, and as time passes, it gets warmer in the room. In the month of August, Mumbai is not really hot. It is rather pleasant. The sky appears like a very dirty white duvet, and whenever the sun comes out, it is generally too timid. Today is no different, just a little warmer. She smells delicious, he recounts from the previous night, when she came along with him after work.

They had gone for a cheap dinner, and talked at length about their work places. It would be wrong to assume that they are dissatisfied with their jobs. He has a white collar job. She has a white collar job. Both have respectable salaries, and both have hobbies they pursue outside work. They have disparate tastes in music. He views anything mainstream with extreme prejudice. She views anything too niche with extreme prejudice. Led Zeppelin somehow manages to squeeze between their choices. He has high regard for well read people. She is content will people who seem to know most things about most things. He is not passionately into sports, but he wants to know what’s the state of affairs in cricket, football, tennis and, at times, Formula 1. She loves basketball, although she has never played on a court. She says she had a board and a net back at her house. The topic of conversation at their dinner was mostly music. Both were mistrustful of the other.

She turns on her side. He looks at her wistfully, shakes his head and goes back to thinking. Again. This time on his feet. He does not want to leave his place before she wakes up. He does not want her to stay after she does.

Conversations are best avoided on matters that matter significantly to the parties involved. It is best to not ask and not tell. It is better to sweep everything under the carpet, hoping that it will eat up all the dust, and when one day when you are shifting houses and trying to bundle the splattered bits of yourself in the room within the carpet, you hope you will not remember any of that residue. As ironical as it sounds, the carpet does really seem to eat up everything. The floor underneath remains as clean as it was when you moved in. But the carpet just feels heavier. And when you leave, you keep looking behind, unsure whether to be suspicious about the spotless floor, the heavier carpet or the lighter person that you leave. It is like knowing that all said and done, you cannot shed certain weight from the ecosystem that you become, and at the same time, becoming paranoid about the dust floats around. That once the dust settles on the floor, it will give away your secrets. To a chronicler who you might never know. It is not a comforting thought.

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