Monday, April 03, 2006

one morning

Well let's say it's a beautiful spring morning, juicy tips of green on trees like a baby's eyelashes, and she pops her head out of the door to greet her husband, who, with his coffee mug and the newspaper is standing on the porch. And he's talking to a man at the bottom of the stairs, a miserable leprous spirit of a man, with a sad secret mouth and eyes of absurd need with red spots in the very center of each one. The man on the stairs is asking for money and although he's standing at the very bottom step, she can feel the tendrils of his desperate need curling and reaching up the stairs and through the porch and around the whole house. Her husband looks at her and she says "Hi" and he says "Hi" then she looks at the man on the stairs and says "Hi" and he says nothing.
She is wearing a loose blue cotton skirt and her arms are bare. He looks at her with a shadow of desire hidden behind a wall of sorrow and then he turns to her husband and he says, a statement not a question, "So that's your..." Her husband says, "Yes. That's my wife." There's a pause, three people on the porch and the sunshine and the wind in the leaves.
Her husband says, "I'm sorry my friend, you have to go."
The man on the stairs says, "Well do you know any place - any place to go?" Her husband says, "No, I can't help you."
The man on the stairs turns and walks away without looking back, and she watches him and then she looks at her husband and he looks at her and she says, "But - I think I know some places he could go - there's the temple on Mallige road - or the Krishna temple in Iyyengar Circle - " and her husband says "Forget it." She glares at him and slams the door as she goes back into the house, and a few minutes later he follows her in.
"Did you just slam the door on me?"
"I wanted to help him. He was so sad."
"Why do you care so much?"
"Because he was miserable and we are happy."
"That's what you need to live with in a city. You need to shield yourself, or you'll never survive."
"But there's so much pain in the world."
"Look, if you care so much why don't you make him a sandwich?"
"How can I find him?"
"He told me where he was going. He's with his mother, sitting in front of the bakery, a block away."
"He's with his MOTHER?"
"That's right."
So she very noisily and angrily opens the fridge and begins packing last night's leftovers into a carton.
"You're giving him my lunch?"
She glares. "That's right."
"That's hundred bucks for me to buy one."
She glares. "Fine, I'll make him a new sandwich."
"I was only kidding."
She continues making the new sandwich and he does not stop her. She pours some flakes into the lunch carton and packs it into a bag and starts and then she goes back and puts the whole jar of flakes into the bag. She stares at her husband in case he noticed this. Then she heads for the door.
"You're going without me?"
"I didn't think you wanted to come."
"Well, you thought wrong."
She slips on her flip-flops and walks outside. Her husband follows, still in loose pyjama pants. As both walk down the lane with the sun on their hair they must look a handsome couple and their neighbour the English professor waves a greeting. "Beautiful morning!" She smiles at him, the white-lie expression of a polite neighbour, and continues walking. There's a teenager listening to his Ipod in front of the bakery and a few friends chatting in front of the nearby cafe. Other than that nothing but a yellow dog wandering down the dusty street. Her husband shrugs. "Gone, just like that." She says nothing as they both walk back to the house.
"I wish I'd talked to him more, gotten his story," her husband says.
Still her icy silence.
"I don't think you understand, I was talking to him until you came out, but then I wanted him to go away. I wanted to protect you."

She breaks her silence."What do you think that pale man would have done for you to protect me?"
"He is not a beggar. I dont think he has a mother who, he told, was sitting in front of the bakery."
She is confused. "How do you know all these ?"
"Did you notice the change in his expressions when he saw you coming out and when I told him that you are my wife? He was expecting more from you than just food."
She is still in a confused state of mind."Then why didn't you stop me from going near bakery?"
"Well I knew that neither he nor his mother will be there near bakery!!. If I had told these things without going there then you would have had few speculations about my predictions."
"Were you so sure about your predictions?"
"Frankly speaking nobody can be perfect. I too didn't want to take any risk. So, I accompanied you to the bakery. If he was a true beggar, as he seemed to be, then I would have felt proud about my wife for being so kind."
"Aint you feeling proud now?" She smiles.
"Of course". He too smiles.
"I too feel proud for being maried to an intelligent and caring Psychiatrist."

PS: a million thanx to the people who helped me to minimise the flaws in the post and who helped to coin a suitable name for the post.