Monday, March 04, 2013

Mini and Me - 1

(Something I wrote a long time ago. Reading it now makes me cringe!)

It was a long flight. Much longer than the flight I’d taken six months ago, coming out. I hadn’t been able to sleep much last night. The excitement had kept me awake. But even though I was tired and my back and legs ached, when I closed my eyes I didn’t see nothingness. I saw my home again; I saw Mumbai – chaotic, noisy, familiar; I saw the laburnum from the balcony of my flat; and I saw Mini – smiling because I had come back to her.

The stewardess placed dinner – or was it now breakfast? – before me. But one bite nauseated me and I lay back and closed my eyes. Maybe my next meal would be with Mini, I thought and smiled.

My back hurt, and I shifted. I would go to the doctor when in a few days. Vinay would tell me what to do, or refer me to a specialist. Anyway, now that I was out of the freezing cold and back to my old familiar life, I might get better. I should start walking every morning, or join the gym. We could do it together. I’m sure Mini would like that. It would be a nice way to start the day.

Miraculously, the flight landed on time. Customs was long and difficult, but they finally let me through. And there was Mini, standing there smiling at me, too dignified to wave, but her eyes lighting up like stars. She looked different with her hair short – younger somehow. And she was thinner too, I realise as I hug her. But there are no circles under her eyes and her cheeks are pink with excitement now.  

It was all so familiar – the autos and taxis, the corrupted Hindi dialect, the heat and humidity, the dust and noise – it was like I had never been away. And Mini sat next to me in the taxi, my arm around hers, her body pressed against mine…

The building watchman greeted me as we paid off the taxi. “You’re back, Sirji?” he said, with a broad smile on his face.

“Yes, I’m home.” I smiled at Mini, who was trying to lift a couple of my bags.

I stopped her as she reached to open the door. I brought my own set of keys out of my pocket with pride and unlocked the door. We pushed the bags in, and I looked around. The curtains were drawn and sunlight flooded into the room. It looked bright and cheerful. The cushions were new. I could smell food in the kitchen.

“I cooked lunch,” explained Mini. “I thought you might prefer that to eating out.”

“Thank you, darling,” I said, drawing her close to embrace her in a way that had been impossible earlier.

I had thought I would talk to her for hours after I got home; talk to her in a way that had been impossible for so long, even with Google Talk and Skype: talk to her with her sitting in front of me and looking at me with her big eyes or sitting next to me with her head on my shoulder and my arm against her body.

But instead we made love, even before I showered or changed, even before I told her how much I missed her or she cried with relief that I was back at last. We made love passionately at first, giving vent to our starved desires and with a ferocity on her side that seemed almost like she was willing to punish me for staying away from her. And then we made love again, with a tenderness that made us feel one again, like we would never let each other go.

The ceiling fan whirred to a stop. “Oh, no. I was hoping we wouldn’t have a power cut today,” she said.

“It’s all right, I need to take a shower anyway.”

She lay staring up at the ceiling. “It’s only March, and it’s so hot already.”

“Don’t worry, baby. We’ll buy an AC soon, and an inverter. We can afford it now.” And we could, with all the money I had saved in these six months. We could afford a better car. But we had talked about all that already, and we could talk again, make plans, make budgets. For now I wanted to savour the feeling of being home.  

It felt both familiar and new. Sometimes, it was like the six months had never been, and I had always had breakfast in the morning with Mini sitting across me; I had always woken up with the sun streaming in through the light curtains and the steady honking and growling of traffic below. But then I remembered the snow and the sleet, the loneliness and the long nights, and wondered that they were over.

I gave Mini her gifts: one pair of jeans, a sweater, a silver pendant, a black leather jacket, two books she had asked for, a bottle of perfume, a box of chocolates. She smiled and caressed them all before turning to kiss me. She tried the clothes on and pirouetted before me. I told her she looked “smokin’ hot” in the jacket. I told her how afraid I had been that the clothes wouldn’t fit. She smiled at me, a small rueful smile, and said, “I wish you hadn’t got me leather, though.”

My vegetarian wife who patronised cloth jholas and jute jootees. “I’m sorry. You didn’t have a jacket, and I thought this would look good on you.”

“It does,” she replied wistfully, looking at herself in the mirror. Then she folded it and packed it and the sweater into a suitcase. “It’s already warm,” she said. “I’ll wear them next winter.”

I spent much of those three days sleeping. I was jet-lagged and worn out from the journey. Mini and I talked, shopped, cooked, went out for dinner. We met a bunch of my friends for dinner the night after I got back. It was great meeting them after so long, and we had a long evening of stories and jokes and drinks. It was a relief to hear jokes and puns in Hindi again, and be able to respond with some of my own. No, I hadn’t forgotten anything.

And then I went home with my wife and made slow satisfying love to her.
I had reached Mumbai on Friday. I had three days to rest and refamiliarise myself with my surroundings. On Monday morning, I got up early and got ready for office as usual – unlike usual, I woke up with Mini and talked to her while I shaved, and we had breakfast and walked out of the house together.
I dropped Mini off at the train station. I had offered to let her take the car, but she refused. “Not today,” she said. “Anyway, I’m getting late and the train is quicker. Afterwards, maybe, I can take the car and drop it back at your office on my way home in the evening… “
“Sure,” I’d said.
Mini was a teacher. Extremely intelligent and well-spoken, she had surprised me as well as her parents when she had insisted on taking teacher’s training instead of doing a post graduation. That was what she wanted to do, she had insisted. And when Mini wanted something, who could persuade her otherwise?
She seemed to enjoy it though. She cribbed, sometimes, about the rich spoiled kids in her morning classes, and about some rich apathetic parents. But she was always all sympathy for the children in her afternoon class – slum children and street children who attended the school after the regular scholars were done with their classes, and whom she and another teacher stayed back for every afternoon.
My generous, obstinate, beautiful Mini.
Continues tomorrow.

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