Saturday, February 17, 2018

with or without

It was a lunch-invite dressed up as a date.

That was the result of playful sparring on the phone. I had feinted deep hurt about her hosting a party for the rest of the gang before I got home for the summer break. She asked me what I would like as compensation or repentance. I asked for a lunch at her place. I thought she would laugh it off. Instead, she agreed. I laughed nervously then. She must have caught that. She started teasing me. Asked me what I would like her to wear. A tiny dress, I said. With or without, she asked. I nearly choked. Ok, without, she said. We laughed. I thought that was settled and forgotten.

Two days later she told me that my lunch was ready. I got there around noon. I tried to act cool. I sweated and felt like I was hopping on one foot and then the other. I hope that was just my imagination.

She was wearing a tiny dress.

Where are your parents, I asked. They are out, she said.

Her parents do not like me, never have, never will. I am not sure why. There's one thing I know about girls. If a girl's parents hates a guy, the guy should never be with the girl in her house, or elsewhere, without her parents around.

When do you have lunch, she asked. Early, I said. I was really nervous. It's ready, she said.

She, or was it her maid, had set a glass-top table on a balcony. The view was fantastic. I could have fallen and no one would have heard me make a mess. The noon air was still. Her tiny dog took its place beneath the table. Does he have to be there, I asked. It's a she, she said. Ok, then it's fine, I said.

There was rice, dal, stir-fried vegetable, salad, curd. I waited. She served. I waited. Oops I forgot, she said. She called to the maid. A large covered dish arrived.

She opened the cover. There were three pieces of fried chicken wing flat. She gave me one and took one herself. She did not cover the dish. The remaining one kept staring at me. The dog too stared at me.

She talked about life, in general. Then she offered specifics she could have avoided. She expected me to offer something in return.

I thought about the rule of three, why it had to be three.

She leaned forward. In those days, that used to be a subliminal stimuli that could fluctuate to supraliminal.

Without, she said. Huh, I burped. She laughed.

She talked about a friend she had met recently, a Deepa or a Divya or some D.

I thought about fried chicken wing flat. I like to pop it in my mouth and suck the flesh off leaving the bones still joined at one end.

Her legs parted a little. The dress climbed up.

She told me that Deepa or Divya or some D expected us to be an item in the near future. She was of course teasing.

Something puzzled me. Was it for a third person? The other? Was it for me? Was it to be left alone? The epistemology of chicken wing flats was too much for me.

We heard the sound of a car.

Oh, they are back, she cried. She ran inside to her room. I saw her reaching for a pair of jeans and some other items. She closed the door.

The dog barked.

I put the third chicken wing flat in my mouth.

Her parents entered the scene.

What are you doing, young man, her mother snarled in her cold polite way. Her father did not say a word.

I pulled out the bones and placed it on my plate.

She came out of her bedroom, looking too proper. 

I left. With chicken, without her.

No comments :

Post a Comment