Saturday, August 30, 2008

wayside blur

I looked up from my morning cereal and tea and saw her outside. She woke up and stretched, a small dark lithe waif of a girl-woman. Then with a few lightning hand waves she coiled her hair up into an expert coiffure, that would probably have cost thousands at the salon Sarika patronized. Sarika is my girlfriend, a vision of expensive perfection, poetry in measured motion.

I wonder what this waif-child would look like if they stuck her in a salon for hours. I shuddered at the thought. The waif-child-child woke up and started toddling around. He was around one and a half and he never cried. The most philosophical infant I have ever seen, he took things as they came. He smiled at everyone and made friends with man and beast alike with an endearing lack of his own consequence. If his dad showed up, he was happy, if he didn't, he still managed to get by smiling.

Waif-child and her family caretook the property next to ours. There was another girl that waif-child had apparently also borne, around three and precociously outspoken. It was amusing to watch her as she lorded the whole land around, her little tummy stuck out, an expression of permanent supercilious disdain on her face. The little terror was still asleep.

Waif-child turned to see me watching her, and threw in a few more stretches for my benefit, that I duly admired. Then Sarika came in, trailing waves of nightcream into the tiny living room with a bright good-morning and I dropped my eyes abruptly to the newspaper. Sarika did not like the family much. The husband ran an auto during the daytime, and came home some nights and disappeared others. There was some woman who used to keep coming there to yell at them to return her money.

I always felt bad for waif-child. She did the caretaking, and raised the kids when she was only a little more grown than them, did a few odd jobs for pin money, and got yelled at regularly by their various creditors. The bastard she married had gotten himself a nice deal. He seemed like a okay guy otherwise, but somehow I couldn't quite like him, he had a face that didn't look like it had been etched from a lifetime of good deeds.

Apparently the family was in debt to the tune of Rs.50000 and sundry. Husband made a decent living and thankfully didn't beat waif-child or the kids, but they always had loud cash and other problems. And Sarika hated anything loud, it gave her migraines, and then me. Besides she sensed my fascination for the waif-child. I imagine she caught me staring sometime and women always manage to produce a seventh sense for these things.

Thankfully, we never discussed it, Sarika knew how to pick her battles, she was really as ideal as it got, I have no idea why she threw her lot in with a dickweed like me. I made a happy survey of her body, everything was intact and magnificently assembled. I smiled at her and thanked unseen providences for my luck

Waif-child had disappeared. Sarika and her were like Superman and Clark Kent, you can never see them together at the same time. I broke my reverie abruptly as I noticed the ticking clock. I was late. I kissed Sarika hurriedly, threw on a shirt and the cleanest pair of pants I could find, laptop, deo stand-in for bathe, breath mints. I hoped Carrisys Connections, the company I was going to make a presentation in, had air-conditioning

Palki, our pet pomeranian, came by as I was putting my shoes on. She growled a little at me and pranced straight to Sarika. I am not fond of her, to be absolutely frank. My idea of a pet is more a menacing wolf-hound or a Doberman than this dolled up abomination. But Palki and I grew to tolerate each other as we fought for Sarika's attention.

I turned to Sarika

"Should we lend some money to the neighbourhood family? Yesterday those two kids had barely anything to eat, and that foul woman was yelling again for her money at them all afternoon. It would have an unhappy influence on the kids" I carefully refrained from making any case for the waif-child

Sarika's poise cracked a little and a little furrow appeared between her eyes "Those people make enough money, they just waste it. If we lend them money, they will never return it, simply spend it and keep preying on us for more"

"But we have enough, whats the big deal? We can afford to give away a few hundreds, at least help send the kids to school?"

Sarika's eyes softened patiently and I knew the battle was lost. She stood up to fetch biscuits for her coffee and said with finality "It is better to give to the needy than to these parasites. They should simply learn how to manage their money better, a little hardship will do them good"

Sarika bit into a perforated Marie biscuit, and arced the rest to Palki. I watched entranced as the biscuit spun in the air one way, and Palki the other. The dog caught it neatly mid-air and stood with it in her mouth, waiting for us to appreciate the feat. Sarika made the due fuss, and Palki growled between bites as I snorted a little in the back of my throat. I felt an unaccountable rage and an urge to growl back and kick at the damn yappy narcissistic thing.

Sarika stood up and gave me a hug and a bonus kiss. I returned it absently and took off.


It had been a brutal day. There was one long meeting all day with different departments, each with only a vague idea of what we were offering, with the exact same questions. It was tiring to think how every person is so like every other. Give them a little information and the obvious dawns on them in a brilliant flash I could practically see. They have to share it immediately to whoever is around. Which happened to be me, their paid admirer. I loathed myself by the end of each day, but hey, it paid the bills

I caught my train in a rush of relief and started to walk home, declenching all the frustration as I looked forward. I barely noticed my surroundings in the falling dusk, I had already reached the comfort of home and Sarika, warm and waiting, with a drink in one hand, and a magazine in the other. Then I noticed a vaguely familiar shape in front of me. It was Waif-child, sans the kids, talking to a couple of guys in the street, labourers at the big apartment house being constructed a few streets away from home. They were having some kind of back and forth, when Waif-child noticed me coming along and her manner became abruptly constrained. One of the guys tried to put a clumsy arm around her, but she sidled away, throwing me a blurred look. I was suddenly boiling mad, I wanted to knock their teeth in, but this is a civilized society, I can't do that and last a day here.

I settled instead for turning my head and glaring at them as I walked by. The other guy made an elaborate show of taking out a wad of money in hundreds and counting it. Waif-child avoided my eyes and gestured to them to follow her as she walked away. I stared irresolute as night fell on their retreating backs for a second or two, then swallowed them whole, Then I continued on my way. Tears prickled and my head curved down. All I saw was gravel from then on.


  1. Hey man, I think life is too :) ... no its not entirely fiction, but perception is heavy on it

  2. Yeah,u r rite,thats the naked truth.