“Oh, come on. We don’t have much time. Half an hour. Let’s finish this!” she giggled.
It was a cool winter evening in Bombay. The dark, small, yet cosy Café Leopold had more foreigners than Indians, sitting, talking, drinking and laughing.
They sat on one small table facing each other. There was a huge beer tower kept between them. As they kept guzzling down the beer, conversations kept flowing.
They had met after ages. But it felt like just yesterday.
It always feels like just yesterday. They pick up from where they leave it. Each time. Or sometimes, they start afresh.
“Can you see the bullet marks of 26/11?” she pointed towards the wall. “Still so fresh.”
He looked into her dark brown eyes and took a huge gulp of beer.
“So, what time is your flight? You have to leave in the next 25 minutes you know? Or else, you would not be able to reach the airport,” she said after a pause.
He took yet another sip. A bigger one this time. He didn’t take his eyes off her.
She started to fidget with her curls. She knew he was avoiding small-talk and wanted to come straight to the point.
“You know the name of Bob Marley’s son? No? His name is Rohan,” she tried one last time, to take his mind off.
He took his eyes off now. Put the mug down, took a deep breath and said, “Where exactly do we stand?”
Her eyes turned watery. Like a dark blue swimming pool with sunshine bathing it.
“You are leaving,” she finally managed to say.
“I always do.”
“But, I love you.”
She choked on her beer, but pretended to be fine.
She wiped her lips with the back of her hand, looked straight into his eyes and said, “Do you believe in fairytales?”
“I believe in a lot of things,” he said.
“Unicorn blood is precious.”
“A little less than phoenix tears.”
“True. And yes, I love you too,” she looked away and smiled.
The beer tower was fast finishing. They poured themselves two last mugs.
This was yet another meeting where they were leaving without knowing where they exactly stand. They will meet again. Maybe in some other part of the world. Many months later. Some more conversations. Some more goose bumps. With sparkles in their eyes.
Some stories remain unfinished. Or maybe, that’s the beauty of it.
By the time they came out on the busy Colaba street, it was dark. People from all strata of the society and nationalities were flocking the streets.
“It’s time to say goodbye,” he said.
“I am the dog who saw the rainbow, you know?” she said.
“You know why I am saying that, right? Please tell me you do?” she enquired.
“Umm.. because you have seen the rainbow in my eyes?” he laughed.
“Dogs are colourblind, you fool. And I am the dog who saw the rainbow. You make me see the unseen. You make me believe in the unbelievable,” she said.
“Ah.. You are my Marie Curie and Sylvia Plath rolled into one, baby!” he said.
“So, this is it?” she looked at him, her eyes sparkling.
He kissed her lightly on her cheek, took his lips near her ears and sang in a low voice..
“What’s the use, of worrying about,
The ways in which the world might come to an end?
When all along, there’s been a boat,
On side of the bed that you never read instead..”
As she saw his retreating figure disappear in the dark, winter night; a tear trickled down her cheek. She brushed it off. She smiled. She knew, as always, this wasn’t the end. It never is.