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Voicing Silence 7

Friday, July 18, 2008

Memories of food – Modak

It was the first time I was away from home on my birthday. I had been working the whole day and for some reason that I cannot now remember, I had not spoken to my parents since morning. As I made my way home that evening, I stopped by at a phone booth and called them. I wished my father a happy birthday and he greeted me back – we share a birthday. We chitchatted for few more minutes and then I hung up. I had never felt worse as I made my way up the third floor to the small flat which I shared with two other girls. One of the few people I knew in the apartment block was a Marathi family who lived on the ground floor. On my way home, sometimes I used to stop by and play with their little two-year old. Soon I was being invited for a cup of tea and poha. And I before I knew it, I was picking up fruit and veg for them when I did my shopping. Their door was always left open and the fruits gave me the perfect pretext to drop by their place.

On that particular birthday however, I didn't feel like socialising much and wanted to slip away as quietly as possible. But the elderly grandmother who saw me pass by, rushed to the door and enquired after me. I told her that it was my birthday and feigning fatigue, I made my way to the flat. No sooner had I shut the door behind me than there was a knock. The grandmother stood there holding an ever-silver tiffin box. It's Modak, she said offering it to me, you told me it was your birthday. It was the first bit of celebration I'd had all day. And I didn't need any other.

A quick tale 210

Something to talk about

I walk few paces behind you. Anyone who sees me will think of me as a dutiful wife following her husband. I quicken my stride. We're now walking side by side. Our shoulders graze. But our rhythm is all upset. I lift my leg before you and drop it to sync with you. Left, right, left, right. Like soldiers marching in tandem. I wonder briefly about grabbing your hand. We could swing it up down, up down. We could even hum a tune. If we were children, we would have added a hop. We would have looked like a jaunty pair. But we're adults. A married couple. We're taught to worry about what people say. And what the neighbours think. I cross my arm across my body. Taking it away as far from you as possible. I don't want them to get the wrong impression. We have children to think of. I don't want aunties to wonder if I'm still attracted to you. And I certainly don't want any gossip about possible romance between us.