She came, whiffing of that elusive perfume. He had searched for that fragrance in vain, at stores he knew she shopped, on his mother’s dressing table. It still eluded him. An elegant swish of her dupatta as she sat down.
“Why always the salwar kameez ?”
“I’m not comfortable with jeans”
…their favourate argument at a different time. Now however both wore a veneer of distant friendship, past ties notwithstanding.
“It’s good to see you”
“Same here. One year’s a long time”
To forget, yes but apparently not enough time to forgive.
She spoke of her life, of how she juggled home and work after her mother’s illness. Over coffee reminiscences occurred. Then he spoke of his life in the new world, of loneliness and new friends. Of his job and the bitter cold. Of the ease of American life and the glitter. Of magnificent cities and his longing for Indian food.
“So you have to cook now? No amma in America? Paavam you”
Sarcastic but friendly, he admired the way she jabbed with a smile, drawing blood always. Flashes of times they had together. Always food, the focus. Cooking together, shopping for groceries, more exotic with every meeting. Relaxing on her low divan, sighing after an exceptionally tasty meal. Together in their exhaustion of having had oversweet payasam, in their fiery exultations after a spicy meal.
“So hows the weather nowadays?” Lunging for neutral ground.
“The rain is as thick as the masiyal I make, the sun as scorching as that thokku you liked”
She continued ignoring him. You were always too flexible, she thought. Naïve. Someone serves you beef stroganoff and you lap it up. Typical immigrant attitude. Too much change in you. I hope….
“I’m thinking of calling the gang over for lunch. This Sunday. You don’t have to come early to help, just be there on time.”
“I will see you then, you take care”
She got up to leave. Adjusted her dupatta, and left. He noted with a smile she hadn’t offered to pay for her meal. She hadn’t changed at all. He would go on Sunday, just in time for lunch though.