So today’s story – two regular people, trying to be interesting to each other, playing mind-and-heart games before their bodies do. I call this ‘Cryptic Chimichangas’ for two curious dates with two different people, who by a strange quirk of fate, share their birthday.
“You think I’m so something, don’t you?”
She turns to take a sip from her glass. She sips regular water like it’s wine. It’s not even bottled water, just plain old ‘regular water’. Rahul can’t tell whether she’s frightfully pretentious or unimaginably gauche.
“Yes, you most certainly are something.”
He replies, solemnly, even though he has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about. Being steady is the only way to deal with her, he has decided. So he keeps his eyes on her even as she coolly surveys the other tables, stares at the cigarette shop across the road and makes wry expressions as she looks around their table.
“Yes. I’m temperamental.”
She says abruptly, turning to look at him. Her fidgety gaze gone, her eyes are fixed on him, guileless and open.
No kidding, Sherlock, he mutters to himself as he busies himself with the menu. She continues to regard him as he painstakingly reads the starters, the main course, the desserts, the beverages and then the main course again. He can still feel her eyes on him so he goes back to read the descriptions under the starters names again. By Chicken Chimichanga, he’s ready to explode so he jerks his head up angrily.
She’s biting her lips and studying her nails but she looks up the minute he does too. Great, now he just feels petulant.
They work their way through the Chicken Chimichangas in different ways – she takes neat half-bites of each piece, like she’d rather be doing something else. He eats up an entire one, thinking how inadequate it is and then remembers to slow down, for good manners. He’s very hungry but her measured eating makes him think he should slow down. So he starts to tell her a story instead.
“So it’s been a crazy week, working like madness to finish that damn presentation. Then I didn’t open my mouth once during the presentation. Just let them roll on with all the lies. And then yesterday this client says the ad doesn’t cue the product to be sexy.”
He stops and there’s a slurp-splotch-ting as she delivers another half Chimichanga onto her plate, with her fork. She looks up, inquiring gaze and it makes him sweat.
“You know, sexy. I mean, sexy???”
“Yes, I get it. Tractors, sexy, doesn’t make sense.”
And then, as if it just occurred to her that it might be polite to do so, she explodes into laughter. He’s annoyed, then flustered and then a little abashed at his poor joke-telling skills. But she’s still laughing.
“Try putting it into the item number in Dabangg 3.”
She gasps the words out in between snorts and chuckles. She is not a pretty laugher. But definitely an infectious one, he thinks and gives in with a smile.
She ceases finally and pats her mouth daintily with her napkin. And then she says,
“But of course, you probably don’t know what Dabangg is, do you? Bollywood and all that.”
“Yeah, I don’t really like that shit.”
he says before he can catch himself.
“But I know what Dabangg is.”
“Of course, Mr.Majid Majidi.”
She visibly smirks.
“Yes. That sounds like a starter to you, doesn’t it?”
“Chicken Chimichanga. Majid Majidi. Yes, well done.”
She replies but this time she’s not smiling. She looks away and frowns at the floor. He wants to apologize, to tell he’s sorry for sneering at her. No one likes being condescended to.
“Oh look, the sky’s turned yellow!”
She leans down, almost flat on the table so she can see under the awning. He follows her gaze and sees she’s right.
“Refraction. That’s what causes that colour.”
He says, remembering his eighth standard science textbook.
“Refraction happens everyday.”
She darts a gaze to him but her tension has melted and her attention is drawn back to the yellow sky.
He tries again.
“It looks like the fried cheese on top of the Chimichangas.”
She laughs but she doesn’t turn to him. A few minutes later she mumbles something about the colour of paradise. As they step out, she impulsively reaches for his hand. And she looks right into his eyes when she says,
“You’re a little something too.”