The last time I saw him was at the mall. In the groceries section. I recall we were in the toiletries aisle. I was totally concentrating on my brand of hand wash when he just appeared. Right in front of me. It took me a moment to recognise him.

His was the perfect picture. His little girl on the shopping cart. Her hair tied into a pony tail. Wife in tow. A very pretty wife at that. She must have been prettier when he had married her. Now her face was rounder, hair a little disheveled, like every young mother's. But still pretty. He was the same. Lean, dark. And very terse.

There was a minimalistic exchange of pleasantries after which we parted. Then for the rough fifteen minutes that followed, in which I continued to tick items off my shopping list, I remembered that it hadn't been that long a time. Probably two years. We all lose track of time. So many many other things worry us more that there is no mathematical account of time in our lives.

Years go by and we cannot even recall what we were upto when. But it wasn't two years ago even.

The half a dozen tea breaks in the chawl downstairs. And the chit chat. Sometimes, strolls too. It was nothing. I had moved on from that nothing. And he had too.

Time, they say is very powerful. And we all must wait, if nothing else. Everything passes on.

Written for the one who has never forgotten to wish me on a birthday.

Happy 29.


She was completely soaked in the plan. She went through it again and again. The show was at quarter to three. She had to leave at half past one. The cinema hall was more than ten kilometers away. And he was to meet her at their designated pick up place. She couldn't be late. They wouldn't miss the ice-cream before the show started. He had booked three seats for the two of them in the corner of the last row. So that he could wrap his hand around her shoulder and no one would be bothered. She had made a suitable alibi at home, she was away for back-to-back tuitions and soon after she would go to the beauty parlor. She prayed hard that nobody should find out. What else could she do but pray. What could anyone do but pray. She was a few minutes late and he had been waiting. She tied a scarf so as to hide her face and climbed on to his bike, and sat clutching his chest from behind. Like they do. In a minute, they were on the main road. The wind was unstoppable that afternoon. It shouldn't rain, how would she explain at home if she got drenched. Her head had transformed into this constant alibi manufacturing machine. It didn't. They licked their ice cream cones standing in the alley behind the hall. Her face was uncovered now, and people stared on, uninhibited. In her eyes he saw how nervous she was. In the darkness, when the film played, they held hands and even plucked kisses off each other. But her heart lay in her phone, which might ring anytime. What if they found out. Nobody called, though. In the interval, he bought more soft drinks and wafers. The cold breeze from the air conditioner, gave her the chills and she snuggled as close to him as she could. He whispered things into her ears, making her promise for a few more matinee shows like that. She whispered back, asking what if people back home found out. He whispered back saying that he had his way of taking care of things, if they did. She felt both empowered and bothered, by what he had said. Later, when the show ended, the skies opened up. The wind had stopped and the rain began to look scary. They couldn't ride back in that weather. They waited and waited for what seem like an hour and she couldn't make anymore alibis on the phone. She was at her wits end and her forehead heated up.They were both soaked under their skins. She was in tears, well almost. And he consoled her with all he had. That they were going to be just fine.