A craven capriccio in watercolour on papier mâché
i caught you napping in the office yesterday. You don’t know that i did. (i didn’t want to embarrass you.)
You were slumped in your plush recliner — snoring gently — head back — Pert Plus hair a mess — pert nose pointing towards an emulsion sky — sallow cheeks glowing — gloating eyes shut — crow’s feet out for a leisurely stroll in the park. Your nail-bitten hands, ordinarily hotbeds of nervous energy, lay cupped in your lap, palms upward, as if tenderly cradling a pair of soft, warm chickadees.
i stood silently at the door to your room, mouth open, loopily drinking in the pleasing scene. Able, for the first time since i think i fell in lust with you, to stare longingly, and for long, at your strangely put-together face without fear of you catching me in the act.
It may only have been a few seconds, but it seems like hours. That’s the wonderful thing about memory: it is, post hoc, the only reality that counts. And in those hours, i built up a trove of verboten memories which me and the holey loincloth will cherish for a few days. (i have a notoriously bad memory.)
i’m not sure what it was that shook me out of my trance. Perhaps that fartistic arselicker, Marwan P. Turreyah, being his commonly noxious self, bellowing mad-doggedly from the other side of the office, in some obscene variation on the native tongue, at some poor wretch or other. (Not me this time, thankfully!)
Whatever it was, i snapped to attention, suddenly aware of the danger you were in with Hassanally Suhrawardy, aka Big Bad Boss, aka Bholu Pehlvanian, on the prowl.
i had to wake you. But how?
i thought of stroking your hair and whispering sweet encouragements in your ear, the way ammi-ji used to wake me up on school-days. But i wasn’t in the mood to be punched by you in the nose. So, reluctantly, i turned away and feigned a loud coughing fit.
When i turned back to look you were blinking your eyes and tossing your hair into place, pretending to busy yourself with the mess of papers on your desk. Oh, what a ravishing avatar of wanton divinity you were.
Straightening my snap-on bow tie, i knocked discreetly and shuffled meekly into your room, gaze lowered virtuously, placing on the desk your twelve o’clock mugga of coffee (“strong, black, and no sugar, dammit,” as always), praying to playful Ramayan goddesses that it hadn’t cooled down to below your limited tolerance level in the time that i had stood outside your door drinking in your somnolent magnificence.
i desperately wanted to tell you what had happened, and how i’d saved the day. To be a chocolatey hero in your eyes. As you frolick round a picturesque banyan tree. In a revealing sari. In the pouring rain. All the while blowing me the sweetest of pouty kisses. (‘scuse me while i kiss the sky!) But i wasn’t sure how to put it. i’m so tongue-tied in your presence, always sounding like the most cretinous village idiot in a Telugu stage drama.
All i could muster was a hoarse, “ Salaam, mare-dumm. Kaafi tamm is.”
i wish i could be satisfied simply with having done you a good turn (even though it was nothing really — i hadn’t had to go out of my way or risk anything) (except i could have ogled you a while longer). But dammit, that’s not enough. The truth is i’m not as pure or selfless or altruistic as i’d have you believe. And while we’re at it, you’re not nearly as stunningly beautiful as everyone says you were.
Not in the tacky, plasticky, Hollywood-Bollywood, khassi-fan-toting-Lagerfeld sense, anyway.
i guess a smile and a heartfelt thank you would be nice. i haven’t the balls to expect anything else.
Transl(oc)ated from the Tamil by kinkminos