Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"You like Chuck Palahniuk?"
She looked up. Brown eyes, long eyelashes.
“Ya. I’ve only read this one, and Snuff.”
He shook his head. “He’s insane.”
She smiled and noted his dark black eyes, with an iris that glittered like countless board pins.
“ I’m Fabian.”
“ I’m Neha.”
“Hi Neha. Sorry I can’t shake hands. Don’t want to end up dead”
Her eyes twinkled; he could tell she was smiling.
“It’s okay Fabian. You’re forgiven.”
“So what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?”
He thought he heard her snort. He liked girls who didn’t try and muffle their amusement.
“Okay. Don’t tell me. Let me guess. You have fever, a cold, may be even a cough and a body ache.”
“Wow Fabian. What do you do? Read face masks for a living?”
“No, hang around government hospitals, hoping to meet girls with brown eyes and a hacking cough.”
Her eyes went from twinkling to guarded in a second.
“Sorry. Don’t panic. I’m just bored. And happy to have someone to talk to.”
The brown eyes went warm again.
It’s okay, she said
They both looked away.
This time she broke the silence. I like your eyes, she said.
He looked around in surprise.
I’m talking to you, she said.
“Oh me. Whew. I thought you were those kinds.”
“What are those kinds?”
“You know. The chicks who are into let’s draw the line at hello, what’s your name, where do you work.”
“What crap. There are no women like that.”
“Okay. I like your eyes too.”
She paused, the conversation had shifted.
“Isn’t this bizarre?”
What, he said.
“Having this conversation, here.”
This was his cue. His eyes looked shy for the first time. “We could have it somewhere else. You like Vishal Bhardwaj? Kaminey releases on Friday.”
She wanted to say yes. Instead she coughed. A long bout of short coughs.
He thumped her on the back. She drank some water from the Bisleri bottle she was carrying.
He wanted to ask her again. She wanted to say yes. But between the coughing and the drinking, her name got called.
She stood up frantically. The ward boy was scowling. Six hundred people had already landed up, and it was just eleven in the morning.
She slipped her bag over her neck. Adjusted her mask, took a deep breath. And turned to him.
“I’ll see you in quarantine. Or I’ll see you at Globus, eight thirty, Friday.”
He smiled. “I’ll be there, wearing a mask!”
He thought he heard a snort as she walked towards the doctor’s chamber.
This is my version of Love in the Time of Swine Flu. Apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Love in the Time of Cholera.