The morning sun is not at its glorious best after being bullied by the clouds for at least 2 continuous days, but it musters some courage to take a peek at the city. Instead of the deliciously sharp orange shape it normally would take at another time, strutting above the horizon, it is a fuzzy something dragging itself up in sky. It is well past dawn but the air does not smell fresh. It is one of those sticky days where the early morning dreams are persuasive enough to render one straddling the boundary between consciousness and dreaminess, and tend to cling tightly enough to one’s memory so that when one wakes up, one remembers the characters and their faces but not the story.
He has woken up with a fuzzy, uncharacteristically noisy mind, and a dreamy awareness of the previous evening.
In perfect contrast, there is a lazy calm outside his place. The few vehicles on the road go about their business as silently as they can, without attempting to catch notice of anyone. The warmth of the sun just about manages to reach his bed where she sleeps, in the process lighting up the room more than what the need of the hour is. The twosome does not have the luxury of a functioning remote control for the air conditioning, so until one of them decides to get up to switch it on, the heat will continue to threaten the silence in the room. Silence is his home turf.
After much deliberation, he finally kisses her on the back of her neck. Softly. She does not seem to notice. He gets up from his bed just in time to switch off the alarm, and switches on the AC. And wakes her up. She greets him with a kiss. He smiles, nods, pulls away, and eventually returns the kiss, morning breath notwithstanding. Both acknowledge that, almost shamefully.
“What do you normally do on Saturday mornings?”
“I don’t wake up early enough to ever have to worry about it. Nobody wakes me up with a kiss, you know!” She nudges him.
“Why do you wake up so early?”
“Well blame the sun for that. And I go for a run every morning, so that as well.”
“Did you go out today?”
“No. I thought it would be unbecoming of me to leave you all by yourself here. Plus, once in a while, I don’t mind lazing around either.”
“Thank me, you should.” She gets up from the bed and looks for a cigarette in her bag. “You don’t smoke, do you?” He watches her amble across the room to the window.
“You may want to dress yourself up in manner more fitting to the place you are stepping out onto?” He throws her his tee, which is sufficiently long.
“Why, thank you!” She laughs, puts the tee on, and by the end of it, manages to look even more desirable.
“Do you like western classical music? I want to show off my record player and some Bach records that I have”, he says with a hint of pride and loads of eagerness, and before she can even register this, leaps towards the almirah and starts setting it up.
The record player looks cheap, but still gives a vintage vibe like most things in his room—a classic three knob turntable in teak, now varnished, with some aluminium. Minimilastic. There is a cheap label near the tone knob, and when set up with the two old school wooden speaker boxes, the turntable looks rather stately. He pulls out his precious record collection, all of 13 LPs and 3 EPs, mostly Bollywood music, with a few western classical — Bach, Mehunin, Beethoven — and a couple of classic rock records. He thinks of going back on his word and playing some classic rock instead, but then decides, keeping in sync with the mood of the morning, that the music should bring some urgency or a sense of purpose or some action into the day, either showers or wind or something just enough to enliven the mood.
“No! I guess I don’t. But that’s the thing with these dead fuckers. However boring they might be, they are never bad. So yeah, I mean, go on. I wouldn’t mind a fancy something as a background score for some minutes in my life.” She shrugs, and lights up her cigarette, as the pops and hisses play out in the vinyl.
Beethoven, Symphony No 5 in C minor Op. 67. Composed when his deafness passed from incipient to its final stages, there is something about this piece that catches his imagination every times he listens to it. The urgency of the first four notes, leading into the majesty of the horns that follow — the energy never gives up in the first movement. The gentle oboe solo ultimately gives way to the massive coda in the first movement which feels like a pronouncement of some damning judgement upon a pathetic soul, or so it seems.
Up until the time she woke up, he was a pathetic soul.
Self loathing is a very powerful tool for commiseration for oneself. In fact, it is a matter of curiosity how the human mind functions in moments of self doubt, especially when it relates to the grey side of the moral compass. There are a lot of things people do that they would not be particularly proud of, and in hindsight, may avoid, but they still do. To reinforce their righteousness subsequently, they keep painting the grey in black, keep asking themselves if they did the right thing, and keep coming up with rationales that justify the choices they made. If that does not seem enough, they express their predicament to a few choicest friends who would more likely than not show solidarity. And by the end of it, it becomes like a positive spiral, if that is anything — you feel bad → you try to console yourself → if you fail, you express this wretched feeling to either the subject of your actions or a good friend → win their sympathy → feel better about the situation and yourself.
He still is a pathetic soul.
The conversation with her is a necessity, borne out of the fact that he could not let her sleep while he was awake. He walks over to her as the drama plays out on the LP.
“Thanks for coming over yesterday. You are always good company.” He maintains a certain distance from her.
“It’s okay”, she chirps. “I am not disappointed by your place and your music”, she says, pointing to the turntable. A stub and some ash is all that’s left of the cigarette by now.