- Part 1 -
Gautamjit Thokchom *
She consoling his brother, that little talking machine was the first time I saw her. I kept watching them instead of reading the newspaper I had grabbed from the hawker. She closed his mouth with her hand and lifted him and hurried towards their gate. She couldn't open it as her hands were already engaged with that irrepressible prick. She tried and tried. She banged it in frustration. That was when I offered to open it for her.
"Thank You" she said.
I nodded and left. A voice from above called out, "What's your name?" That was her, sticking her head out of the window of her room.
"Why?" I said.
She closed the window with a thunder. Sparrows flew out of the trees that had branches near her room.
My boring life consisted mostly of daydreaming, reading men's magazines and gossip columns. I had a thing for show business and glamour though I never aspired upto them. Life in a small countryside - it didn't get bigger than that. But if it did, people always lived that part in better places. Never there.
I took up a job at a repair shop of small tools and machinery. Of simple things like bicycle, weaving machine, toasters, mowers etc. The work was boring but it kept me engaged and the owner paid me fair. With the money, I could make my weekends enjoyable and ensure a regular score of magazines from town.
One day as I was flipping through the gossip columns while the owner had been away to town, she came and asked me if I could make good of their toaster.
"Who did it?" I asked.
"Does it matter?" she said.
I went to disassembling the toaster. One of the blades of the fan below the motor was broken. It should not be serious enough to prevent toasting. I didn't try to probe about it though. I changed the fan.
She interrupted, "My brother did it. He is hard to control. You know?"
'I know' I said to myself.
It was summer. She was covering her head with a white scarf with purple prints. Not the best choice to be wearing at that time of the year. Country girls, you couldn't blame them. Her feet were just in front of me. Manicured, with beautiful and clean nails. Then, I looked up. Her mind was elsewhere, might be on the weird tools or the pictures of motorcycles on the wall. She looked good. I was focussing on her nose when she brought back her gaze off the wall and seeing me staring at her said, "What?"
I considered myself tough. I thought I knew how to deal with people. At least people in our part of the country. I was wrong. She proved me wrong. Why did I blush when she looked down and confronted me? She was not even angry or something. She only widened her eyes. Cute. One could say.
When I finished fixing her toaster, she asked how much I would charge. I tried to cut a deal. I asked, "I won't, if we go to the movies on Saturday?"
"No." she said and gave me a crumpled ten rupees note. It was moist. She had kept it in her palm for long. I smiled.
"But what is your name? I wanna buy it." I breathed holding out the ten rupees note.
"Next Saturday. I can spare two hours. I have work." She said.
To be Contd...
* Gautamjit Thokchom wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a student at JIPMER, Puducherry
This article was posted on February 17, 2016.
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