Tuesday, January 25, 2005

'turn left! turn left!'
'arrey why should i turn left, we have to go right.'
'no na! i want a challi!'
'you want a challi?' she took her eyes off the road long enough to look at him, caught between amusement and incredulity. 'i thought was that my job.'
'haan, but you're driving too, and that was my job.' he grinned and pulled the ash-tray open, looking for change. his fingers came out sooty, and a faint line creased the smoothness between his eyebrows.
she was turning left, and didn't look at him.
'jee, jaan?'
his gaze fixed on her hands as she deftly turned the steering wheel. they gripped the leather cover with easy confidence. her nails were painted with a shiny, clear polish, and the only adornment they wore was a large antique silver ring, set with four diamond-shaped pink amethysts. hands, fingers, nails. wash them, and they were newborn. fingers don't bear the stamp of their experience the way a face or an eye would.
'have you been smoking?'
she pursed her mouth, parking on the shoulder a foot ahead of the challi-wallah.
'not really.'
'what does that mean?'
she pushed her sunglasses onto her head and turned to face him.
'it means not recently.'
'no wonder.' he pulled the ash-tray out and showed her the contents. she peered inside, sniffed some ash and sneezed.
'at least it's old,' she replied dryly, honking the horn at the blackened, ragged boy manning the big ashy basket. he scowled and shoved the tray back in.
'you know how much i hate it.'
she stared out of the window, looking at the weeping willow sway its fronds above the canal. it was a blustery day, a hint of rain in the air. she pressed a fingertip to the glass, leaving behind a misty, squashed circle.
'i know.'
he wanted to reply. wanted. he sighed and looked out of his window. the sky was turning yellow....an aandhi was gathering its skirts. leaves danced across the green belt. the radio twanged.
the challi-wallah walked up with a beautiful sunny challi.

Mina at 6:50 PM