Friends and Strangers

What? Could they return to being friends? There was this weird undercurrent of… A little something else. Like a little zap that he felt when he shook hands with her at the airport. They walked out in companionable silence. He tried to fill the silence with some insipid enquiries about her flight, the flight food and she made the same enquiries about their plans for the day. She had about two days. And then she would be gone. Back to their existence, where the words would float back and forth on a screen. It was a strange friendship between kindred souls who couldn’t have grown up more differently. Differences spanning time and distance couldn’t have erased the inexplicable similarities between them. They had rounded the corner of the airport. “We will hail a cab from around that side” he pointed across the road. She suddenly felt nervous about rhe traffic. Different city, different rules. She looked at him unsurely. He moved to her right and a bit in front of her, as he guided them across safely over to the other side. She smiled in gratitude and said “Thanks”. He teased her for being a scaredy cat, and the awkwardness melted. She laughed readily, teasing him back about his insipid remarks at the airport. Soon they were chatting like the old friends that they were. Over a slice of cheesecake as he elegantly wiped at his mouth, he observed her. Her eyes seemed a bit dilated as she looked at him directly with her honest, unflinching gaze and smiled in that lazy, lopsided manner. Her cheeks had a bit of a rosy sheen to them. Interesting, he thought. He seemed to be leaning forward completely towards, fixing her with an earnest gaze that made her ears feel a bit warm. He appeared to be taking any chance he could, for their fingertips to brush. Curious, she thought. There was a point in time where all speech was suspended, and they understood perfectly without words what each wanted. “I have to go.” She said abruptly, and got up. She paid the bill directly at the counter. They walked out, side by side maintaining enough distance for a third person to walk with them, between them. “I think there is this lovely hexagonal shaped garden you would really enjoy.” He said, in a pathetic attempt to rekindle some communication between them. “I am actually feeling pretty beat, I think I will head back to the hotel now. It was nice meeting you.” She said and waved him off, as she got into a taxi.

He didn’t know why he felt so disturbed as he sat on the steps, booking his own cab home. She thought of texting him. Deciding that it was a fruitless endeavour, she put her phone on silent. The cabbie had good taste in music; she closed her eyes and enjoyed the music all the way back to her hotel. She ignored her phone that buzzed incessantly with messages. Yep. Eight messages. All from him. Upon reaching her hotel and finally lying in bed, she checked the messages. He had sent her links to some nice places in the city for her to check out. Nothing about a second meet or asking to join her. She smirked and made a decision.

“Would you like to join me?” She texted him and smiled on seeing what he sent in reply. “Yes, we would :)”

Free Writing – piece 1

Yesterday, the sixteenth of July 2017 I attended a writing workshop conducted by Rohini Malur and Queer Arts Movement India (QAMI). I had a great time, meeting new people and an adorable dog that wandered in. So, the workshop began with a free writing exercise, sort of stretching out the mental muscles in order to keep them limber and flexible before embarking on the journey, for the day. The only rule we had was that we had to write without pause. The topic was Movie Character. The timer was set for five minutes, and here is what I wrote:

“She is this amazing, free spirited woman. She gets up to all sorts​ of shenanigans with the boy next door, who wants to be a writer when he grows up. I like her because she is relatable in that we both want to live our own lives, unshackled by societal expectations. She leaves home at a very young age, to pursue her dreams. And boy, does she have a LOT of them. It is not that she is just confused about what she wants to do professionally, but she wants to do many things. She has one vision of herself, standing before a cheering crowd and receiving all the fame, and adoration as she belts out tune after tune. She has this lovely, scattered energy about her, which is what the aspiring writer falls in love with. Unwittingly, each day the friends grow closer, as they both are in the same city. They are new there, and don’t have anyone but each other to lean on. So the duo help one another with their professional aspirations, she becomes his muse after a fashion. Eventually, the inevitable does happen. The two friends fall in love. But while he is okay with taking their relationship to the next level and obey the diktats of society in doing so, she is not.”

The timer ran out here, and I had to stop at this point else I would have been able to flesh out a great deal about the external conflict, and the internal conflicts that threatened the friendship, the relationship as well as the growth that both characters have to undergo before they can come back into each other’s lives once again. Indeed, the brightest dawn follows the darkest night. But setting all that aside, let’s continue with what happened at the workshop. We had to guess which character each person had written about. Nobody got mine. You know why? She is the every day woman.  She is striving to live her life, pursue her dreams while subsequently wanting to break free. She is extraordinarily ordinary. She is you, she is me.

There in lies the beauty of it.