Sunday, July 18, 2010

Salutes and Half Waves- IV

The conversation

I got up in the morning and felt unwell. The monsoon was in Kolkata, and this city becomes a hotbed of viruses during this time. I had probably caught the flu virus myself. But unlike before, I was happy for this unwarranted attack on me, because it provided me with another opportunity to cross that shop as I go over to the Doctor’s Chamber. I had already resolved to strike up a conversation and exchange numbers. We were shifting home and both my parents had gone to the new house we were to shift to. The chamber was near our new house. I hadn’t told anyone at home that I was feeling unwell, lest my parents asked me to go along with them.

As noon approached, I dressed up. I informed Aagan that it was time I tried my luck. He wished me luck and bombarded me with the silliest of suggestions on how to strike up a conversation with him. I stepped outside and felt a chill run down my spine. The same emotions and activities repeated themselves. But Shankar wasn’t there. My heart broken, I hoped to see him in the shop when I returned back. As if the gods were with me, the chamber was closed, providing me with another chance to repeat my actions in the evening. I went to our new house; my parents were done with their chores too. My mother told me that the doctor was himself unwell and had come to take medicine for himself when she caught up with him. I thanked the gods again, else my mother would have accompanied me in the evening. I gave them the key to the home and let them return back before me, so that I could be alone when I approached the shop. Being on my bicycle, they would have reached before me anyways, meaning I was on safe grounds. I was excited and nervous again, but it seemed lady luck wasn’t to shine on me so soon. The rest of the afternoon I SMS-chatted with Aagan, expressing my desire and growing impatience to know Shankar better. I was turning into a hapless romantic and my facebook status reflected the same, inviting both congratulatory and enquiring comments. All these helped me kill my time, but my thoughts revolved around something else. I knew I wouldn’t be able to chat with him face-to-face for too long. I was never good at that. However, I seemed to have no problem chatting up on SMS or over internet.

It was quarter to seven when I started dressing up. This was the time I had seen him by his shop before, and hoped to meet him again. As I approached his shop, I could see from a distance a man of almost the same features sitting there. I was happy that Shankar, the man I had longed to talk to for so long, was all alone. I crossed over the road, but as I reached the shop, it turned out to be his co-worker. I stopped there momentarily and looked here and there, but my man was nowhere to be found. I looked up the sky, seeking an end to all my agony and went on to the doctor. My medicine taken, I hoped to get lucky now. I had resolved to go and ask for his number at the shop even if he wasn’t there. “Or shonge ektu kotha aache (There is something I need to talk to him about),” I had thought of saying.

I could see from a distance the light inside the shop. My man was standing there, all alone and busy with his chores. ‘This was it, this was my moment. It was now or never,’ I said to myself as I summoned all the gods and gathered all my courage. I straight away went inside the shop and called out his name. He looked up at me, our eyes met and I knew he had been longing for this moment as much as I did, if not more. It seemed that the gods had finally granted me my wish, that all my prayers had been answered, and that time would exist to move.
He came a little forward. He was wearing a ganjee and had a handkerchief placed around his neck. For the first time I got an opportunity to watch him up close. He was a few centimeters shorter than me, had slight hairs on his chest. While I will refrain from comparing him with Adonis or Brad Pitt, he definitely was handsome and good looking enough to have caught my eye that fateful day, leaving me staring at him. His arms had well-developed muscles, not the gym-toned ones, but one which you would find any hard working wage earner to be endowed with. He had a black band on his wrist while a blue jeans covered his legs. Going by the manner in which the handkerchief was wrapped around his neck and the wrist-band, I knew my man was fashionable and had a style.

“Ami ki tomarke jani? Kothai hoye to dekha hoyeche ? Amar theek bahabe mone prche na. (Do I know you? May be I have met you somewhere, I can’t recall properly.),” I enquired in Bengali.

“Na (No),” he said.

“Kintu janle hi kotha korbe erokum to kichu nahi. Bondhutwa korte toh kichu lage na.(But is it that only if a person knows another then only can he talk to him? It doesn’t take anything to befriend a person.),” he added quickly.

I had received the message wide and clear. My joy knew no limit now. All I needed to do now was keep up this conversation as long as I could and get his phone number.

“No, befriending someone doesn’t take anything. It was just that I saw you that day while coming out of my house and felt as if I knew you. Then I would see you waving at me. It seemed that I knew you,” I replied with a smile.
“I saw that you didn’t talk to anyone around much. I would often see you crossing from here. It’s been only a month since you are here, right?” he asked.

“Umm…yes, I was outside before for my studies. But I would come here during the holidays, though that would be for a few days only. But yes, now I am here for good and I have been around for a month,” I answered back.
I wanted to get as much information about him as possible. I wanted to know when I would find him there and how long had my eyes been blind to this beauty. I seemed to be conversing well with him and I went on to ask, “What is your timing here at work?”

“I come at around 11am and then leave at 7pm,” he replied.

“But I will be leaving this job soon. They don’t pay me much here,” he was quick to give out this piece of information to me.

“How much do they pay you?” I asked.

“Rs. 2000 per month, that’s it.”

“That is a paltry sum,” I said, “Don’t you know some other work? You can work elsewhere.”

“No, I work on glass only,” he replied with a sad tone.

“What about you? How many are there in your family?” he asked me.

I answered his question and went on to enquire about his family. I got to know that he was the only son of his parents. He then took the onus of keeping the conversation alive and asked me what glass I should be using for the window panes. He tried to educate me about the benefits of using glass over fiber, on how fibers tend to shrink or get folded due to the heat and break. I faked my interest in the topic, while my eyes devoured every little detail of his beautiful carved out body. I felt like telling him that all that chit-chat with the owner the previous day was meant only to get to you closer but refrained from doing so. I saw a golden opportunity here and jumped in, “Who would be going to repair it?” I asked,

“If I am there, I will go, or else someone else will.”

“When do you remain at the shop? When will YOU go for the repair?” I stressed on the you, making it amply clear that it was him that I was interested in.

“I told you, I come at around 11. You will find me then. If I haven’t gone to work at someone’s place, I remain here,” he replied back.

“So can I have your number? I will call you to know if you are there at the shop.”

“You can take the shop’s number,” he said.

“No, can’t I have your mobile number?” I cut him short in his sentence.

“Yes, if you wish. But I don’t carry the mobile. It remains at home,” he said, thus revealing his reluctance to share the number.

“Ok, I will call you once you have reached the home. At what time do you reach home?”

“I reach home at around 8pm,” he said, “But today I will have to stay here a bit late. So will reach at 9. You call me today after 9. On other days you can call after 8,” he quickly punched in this information.

“Ok, you take down my number then,” and I started taking out a piece of paper from my pocket on which had written down my number to pass on to him.

“No, you call me,” he said.

I understood what he meant and said that I will leave an SMS. I then said, “Ok then, I shall leave now.”
“You can stay and talk, I am free now,” pat came his reply.

So I talked to him for another 5 minutes and tried to ask him out, but he seemed to be surprised at the proposal. I was probably moving too fast now. An old lady who used to sit in the shop arrived and I soon bid him goodbye, with the promise of calling him up. I had chatted him up for around 20 minutes! It was quite a mark for a diffident person like me.

It was quarter past 7 when I came back from this rendezvous and the next one and half hour seemed to be eternity. I dropped him an SMS to give me a missed call after reading it. Over 20 minutes passed, but there was no response from that side. I grew restless by now. But to my relief, I found the SMS hadn’t been delivered and on calling him up, found his cell switched off. It was around 10 pm when I finally received his missed call.

Without wasting any more time, I quickly slipped out of home to call him up, which ended with the promise of meeting again the next day.


aagan said...

Thanx to the limited space in my inbox i dont save chat sms.....or else those could have become a blog unto themselves :P Each word written here had visted my inbox :P and i am waiting for the next issue! Moreover it feels funny to read about those days :P :P :P

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