Sauteed Slices of Love
The cheesy lines he used in his books as titles for his chapters,were meant to annoy her. She loved his writing and he loved how she could get angry at each and every thing he did. He knew his actions were irritating. He knew she hated him for bringing up the idea of calling each other ‘potatoe’ and ‘tomatoe’, a joke on how they first met.
At a grocery shop. He was picking potatoes from the floor and she was judging him while she was checking out for the red-ripe tomatoes. Long story short, they ended up having a conversation about the evolution of the human toe. And the rest is history.
What happened in between? I never got to know. She never spoke about it. As if the experience was too sacred for her to share it with some one. When I got to know him, I tried asking him too. He laughed it off. He called their first meeting, ‘A Game of Veggies and fruits’, well of course he considered tomato a fruit.
The last time I saw him, he was getting on a train. She was sobbing on his shoulders. He hugged her, kissed her forehead and ran his fingers through her burgundy hair. Her dog was diagnosed with cancer and she had to put him to sleep. He was on his way to Jaipur for a shoot. His concern was the dog. He knew Shrappy would feel sad looking at her, feeling sad for Shrappy. And he knew when Shrappy did that, she would break into tears. She would stop again and then continue. This annoyed him a little bit. It was, after all just a dog.
His train came and he said ‘goodbye’. I nodded my head and waved my hand, took her away from the gate as the chaiwallah asked her to move. His goodbyes were always a scene from a Bollywood movie; she’d always say.
Two months later, she got a job at a publishing house. She decided to find new people and get out of her apartment. She ended up taking the bus all around the city on her own, buying gajrahs from little kids, taking pictures of wall art at CHURCH STREET and INDIRANAGAR and having a chai at a random bakery with a King. Her hands had explored so much of the city in a week that her mind burst into the yellow pages she had been trying to write on. Her job didn’t require much attention. It was the same old type-call-ENTER-Ctrl+C-Ctrl+V-Smoke-call-call-call-Coffee-smoke-call-call-LEAVE.
The pages she wrote on, infected the rest of the bind and slowly she had a book of her own. She did think of approaching her own employer for assistance in helping in publishing it. She decided not to and quit her job. Her job and the company was just like the long lock of hair she had to carry around because her mother wanted her to. So, she cut it off. Pulled a bandanna around the short hair and took a daily bus pass to travel more of the city.
Six months later his voice sent chills down her spine. She was painting on an earthen pot and he was sweating from climbing up seven floors. He went for a hug and she just kept her eyes wide. A stranger’s smell and smile, she saw and in and smelled. He wasn't her ‘potatoe’.
He hadn't called in the past three months. Once he did, he was telling her about how beautiful Jaipur is and that he will travel up north, maybe to Leh and if possible Nepal as well. She found the existence of the neighboring country as a problem. But she told him ‘I love Nepal, bring me something from there!’ and he said ‘Sure. Gotta go. Take care babe. Bye.’
Now her short hair seemed like the red wig that a clown would wear. She was on the carpet and he was going on about this one time when he and his friends had to spend the night under the stars and how he saw the Milky Way galaxy.
She saw how distant he was now. He had achieved his dreams of travelling and she suddenly questioned herself about her dreams. Did she achieve anything at all? Her travels around the city seemed futile. Her hair, the gajrah and her current project seemed unnecessary.
She kept asking the same as she downed the whole bottle of Old Monk. She took the next morning to lie down like a corpse on my bed. She left by the time I came back from my poetry performance. ‘Gotta go. Bye. TC.’ I read the text.
I saw her at Shivajinagar Bus Depot few months later. She was wearing a beige top and denim jeans. She smiled at me and then got into her bus. She waved her hand and I got a text few minutes later ‘Running late. Meet me. What about tomorrow at 1? Place- you say.’
She had gone to his place.
She had gone to his place to see him.
She had gone to his place to see him and tell him that she never want to see him again.
He was left shocked. He never understood why she suddenly didn't want to see him. ‘But why?’
She gave him a puppy. ‘His name is Rose.’ He was sure she was having a mental breakdown. She laughed, when he suggested it. ‘You take care of Rose. And let him take care of you. Because I can’t. I can’t stand you and your attitude. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just can’t stand it.’
“..see, you want to tell me about the thousand stars you saw. I want to take bus rides around the city.”
‘Also, you gave zero shits about my condition when I lost my dog. So bye.’
She met me in a red dress. Her hair had grown back. It was tied into a bun. As she walked in and sat in front of me, she untied it and her long hair fell on her shoulders.
‘So should we order the potato fries?’