Saturday, September 5, 2015

Public Chat


There used to be a phone kiosk close to my Department–three booths with table-fans, standing space and, walls of fiberglass waist-up and plywood below; set up with Government funds for the disabled and run by twin brothers, both deaf and dumb. They kept the place clean, managed the queue and billed exactly. Some tried for a nod or a smile. The brothers never responded. ‘They can lip read,’ people warned. That troubled none. Anyone could listen. With three callers at most times, it was tough to keep track of one’s own line.
There, I declared my love for the first time. I got the middle booth, between a postgraduate in Aeronautics and a lecturer in the Mathematics Department. 
‘Surprised?’ I asked.
‘You listen to me…’ the postgraduate insisted.
‘Are you wearing the black bra?’ the lecturer whispered.
‘Are you going to listen to me or to your father?’
‘Stop worrying about your husband, he’s taking Number Theory.’
‘I’d this urge to tell you that I love you.’
‘Come on, it’s just the two of us.’
‘That bastard is ruining our life.’
‘Your father will kill me? Tell him to go and hang.’
‘You decide…me or him?’
‘Why should we do this face-to-face?’
‘Why aren’t you wearing it?’
‘Witch…’
‘Itch…?’
‘Bitch…!’
One couple lived happily ever after; another preserved the status quo; and the third drifted apart.
I miss that place. Those lip reading brothers must have understood all. Snoops these days just aren’t that good.

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