“I knew”. She smiled and walked away. I strolled back to the car having drained myself saying what I had to say. It felt like I had done my usual morning routine of forty-one push-ups but with Satoru Nakata sitting on my back.
4 hours back…
While I was busy coloring the baker’s street from The Magical garden, Satoru was sitting behind me with an unlit cigar supported between his chapped lips. We were listening to our favorite tracks from Ustad Hotel when suddenly Satoru stood up with a bang and declared “We need to meet her”. It even woke up some of the dolls in my toy library from their naps. But they were quick to ignore us and snuggled back to sleep.
I continued to color Sherlock’s clay pipe with pink & blue. ‘You know how it is. Its always She who takes the call on our meeting’. I somehow always get the ‘her’ whenever he mentions it.
‘Just shut the fuck up and call her’
I had been calling her for the last two days since she was unwell. So I didn’t really want to bother her today. But I also didn’t want to prolong the conversation with an old bloke. So I went about hunting for my Moto X amidst the crayon shavings, wiped it clean and called her.
‘Hey! You are good?’
‘Better. Where are you?’. I gave a thumbs up to Satoru sensing we might meet her today. ‘I am going to pick up few whisks (Satoru - ‘few what?’ ) and aprons for tomorrow’s baking class. Will drop by your office, after that.’ She takes baking classes for a bunch of kids at a neighborhood school while waiting to hear back from European universities for her admission.
Ignoring her suggestion, I volunteered to help her with the whisk shopping. Satoru liked the sound of the ‘whisk’ and I was getting annoyed at the semantic satiation. When we were finally done, I offered to drop her home in return for a cup of tea.
Even before we finished this conversation, Satoru was sitting in the backseat. Satoru Nakata is the character I fell in love with from the novel “Kafka on the shore” by Murakami. But that’s just his name. He usually assumes the figure of my childhood hero Che Guevara. Sometimes he looks older with lustrous white mane. Sometimes much younger than me. Now, the one sitting behind me is the older bloke.
Her place is in Sholinganallur or Shols. If you have to imagine Chennai as a human body, you can assume Shols as a bum with a nice ornate tattoo. For some, it is aesthetically pleasing. For the rest of us, it is just a pair of buttocks separated by a national highway with deep craters and outgrowths. Every greedy expanding city has one. Silhouettes of political candidates and Goddesses decorated in lights welcomed us with happy smiles. The candidates seem to be more happier than Goddesses. With elections fast approaching, they can’t afford to look unhappy. The trip was unusually silent. The silence was only interrupted by her rhythmic cough and Santhosh Narayanan’s recent film compositions.
“So what happened with that kid?”, she asked exactly when the Jazz flute bit ended.
“Just told her to address me as Uncle from now on.”
“No uncle. Grandpa. That’s the word for you” Satoru told, after pulling out his cigar from the case. I am allergic. So he doesn’t smoke inside. But since its quite visually horrible to see him without the cigar, I have told him to hold one between his lips.
“Why? As long as she is mature, I guess it should be fine.”
“Told her I already like someone.”
“Hmm… Is it true?”
“Partly yes. Partly no.”
“I haven’t told the girl yet”
“Why are you doing this? Just say it.” Satoru continued to fill the emptiness with a sentence.
“Shaan told me I am not in her league.”
“Wasn’t she the one who first said you guys should be together”
“Yes. But later she corrected herself.”
“My butt. Corrected? Of all the people in the world, you believe the words of a turtle?”
“Stop hmming like her. Just say it now.”
Two flyovers, four traffic signals, six suppressed giggles, fourteen coughs later, we reached her apartment complex.
To be continued. Or may be not…