Unintended relations

Over a coffee at a roadside cafe in a suburb, when a drizzle went on its way unabashed, they sat together, facing one another, enjoying the rain outside and the familiar earthy scent that filled the place with the usual chatter of the crowd, magnified due to the beautiful weather and the place. Kabir rested on the cane armchair while watching her, holding a big cup in both hands, staring outside, in general nowhere, her attention dispersed in the voices and sights that surrounded them; she turned after a couple of moments and smiled saying “What are you looking at?” Kabir replied “Opportunity” and winked. “Don’t daydream, Kabir.” She smiled again.

“Forget it, tell me how’s everything going? How’s everyone at home?”

“Everything’s going great and all are good. What about you?”

“I’m doing great; my maternal grandfather just died and he’s the last grandparent I’d in my core family.”

She grimaced:

“Sorry to hear that”

“Its fine, he was really ill, I’m not sad.”

“OK”

“The hospital, how is it? Hard work, isn’t it?”

“Very much.”

“So, you’ll be free in, what, a year and half?”

“Seems so”

“And then?”

“Don’t know, and don’t want to know…”

Maya looked worried and he knew the reason. And then, he said, deliberately being abstruse,

“Something to do with being a ‘daughter’?”

She smiled and looked away again- concentrating on the Banyan outside, she said,

“You can talk freely, we’re far away from our homes. And yes, it has to do with marriage.”

“That’s what I said- the opportunity I was looking for…”

He focused his gaze on her further, and on hearing this, she turned quickly and said, her manner very quiet, very cold, “First, I have no such ideas about you and besides, you’re four or five years younger.”

“Yeah, I know. The other day I wondered why I was born so late…”

“That’s better.”

“So when are you marrying?”

“Don’t be so obtuse, enjoy the day; once I’m married, we’ll see much less of each other.”

He tilted his head sideways;

“Do you like me?”

“Definitely, or I wouldn’t be here.”

“But you’ll marry, like all others.”

“Yes, that’s nature.”

“And you’d be then ‘someone else’s’, like all others.”

She stared incredulously, but replied all the same:

“Yes, in a manner of speaking.”

This time, having nothing else to say, he looked away- at the crowd, advertently, because the tree and the rain outside was to him the same wild and natural beauty as sat before him,  both, in their own ways, belonging to someone else- wedded or not. Maya shook her head in disbelief, kept her cup on the fancy wooden block between them and held her hand gently. Then in her usual, lovely style, she continued, “Kabiraa, you know all this will have to happen, and you’ll have to move on. But I’ll be with you, always.”

“Forever?”

“Always.”

“And please, sometimes you act like girls!”

“No, I just remembered Goe catche a falling starre. You’re too harsh…”

“What? Man! Not everything’s in my hands. You work hard, I told you once ‘we’d be so happy if you got selected!’ That ‘we’ included me too!”

“I am sorry for that.”

“You shouldn’t be; forgive yourself and get a grip on yourself. You can’t afford to lose now- I’m done with it and am almost settled, you’ve to settle yourself, do it well.”

“Yeah…”

The scene outside had changed gradually, they talked some more and when finally the rain came to a halt, Maya got up:

“Let’s go…”

“Yes.”

The Banyan stood still, hiding some secrets, perhaps answers to Kabir. Both of them picked their vehicles from the yard and went in opposite directions.

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