Monday, May 28, 2007


Yes, that's the color of my mind for the last few days. The desperate longing for something which is just out of grasp. The sheer inability to dredge up some happy memory from the past which I can cling to.

I get into this mood so often, that I have stopped questioning it or trying to find a reason.

The warm breeze keeps blowing from the sparkling Arabian sea. The fishing boats keep bobbing up and down as if their strings are being pulled by some invisible puppeteer. The lovers are still holding hands while they bake themselves in the hot sun. The coconut trees, swaying their heads await the distant sound of approaching monsoon. The cab drivers are still playing "Kajra Re" in their battered Premier Padminis and wiping their sweaty eyebrows with dirty rags. College chicks in flashy clothes are running across passing cars on busy Pedder Road and the Mahim signal is still perpetually jammed.

Apparently, nothing has changed in the city. One day blending into the other as it has always been.

Rakesh crosses the road in a hurry, barely outguessing the Corolla driver who gives him a piece of his rustic Haryanvi mind. Two steps to the paan-bidi stall, three swipes of the sweaty left hand through the dry matted hair and a small Gold Flake, lit from the lighter dangling from the lamppost. Avoiding the rainbow-colored spill of indeterminate liquids with a jaunty leap, he switches the fag to his left while checking the fake Citizen hanging from the right wrist. Just about 10 minutes, what Malik Sir, the owner of his courier company would call fashionably late.

"Bilkul theek hai!" Rakesh thinks, "Let Priyanka saali not get any fancy idea into her pretty head." So what if Rakesh missed his station, day-dreaming about the bright orange streak in Priyanka's dark hair? "Jyada bhao nahin." he mutters absently, almost burning his best navy blue trousers, with the fag carelessly cupped between left thumb and forefinger.

She is waiting as always at the last table to the right. How does she manage it every time, even during peak hours, he has never ceased to wonder. "Has to be the haarami head waiter.", he thinks, the one who's hungry looks are currently licking Priyanka's cleavage while she drinks her daily quota of cold water. "Saali nautanki! ", he feels the first pulse of anger rising up in him, as Priyanka gives the waiter an innocent wink, "and these engleesh low-cut tops, doesn't she have anything else to wear?".

The anger dissolves suddenly at the sight of her dark eyes and the corner of her mouth lifting in the smile which he knows so well. The mild throb in head remains, almost indistinguishable from the hangover from last night's Bagpipers. Priyanka checks her watch pointedly, Rakesh grins sheepishly, all his bluster about being fashionably late forgotten. The youngish boy comes and starts cleaning the table energetically almost on cue, and Rakesh orders two Paav Bhajis just to get rid of him.

"Paisa hai jeb mein?", she reminds him quietly. Rakesh suddenly can't remember how much cash he is carrying and somehow couldn't care less. Lifting Priyanka's hands to his lips, he delivers a small smile of his own. The sunlight reflecting off the broken window-panes frames them for a moment. "Jeb bhi hai khali, dil bhi hai khali", he tries desperately to paraphrase Anthony Gonsalves, shuts up at the sight of her arched eyebrows. "Idiot.", She melts into a quite melodius laughter.

From the next table, I take out the gleaming black ghoda slowly and point at Rakesh's back. So this is what the famous shooters of Bombay have been reduced to. Tapkaoing courier boy lovers, so that the out-of-work bar dancer remains faithful to her seth from Ghatkopar. "Roop mahal, prem galli, kholi no. 420!!", I hum, squeezing the trigger gently.

Excuse me, please.