Thursday, February 22, 2007
She arrives. Hair in disarray. Sari rumpled. Her eyes glazed with jet lag and back to back in-flight movies scan the room taking in the plumped russet cushions and beige carpets offset by bronze idols, temple bells and a serene Buddha, eyes closed in sleep or contemplation. She approves. Her eyes settle on the postcard. But she keeps up her stream of inconsequential chatter about haughty white air hostesses and the bad food they serve, pretending not to have seen it
All the while she watches her mother, waiting for the sharp intake of breath and narrowing of eyes. The postcard says: ‘See! I’m not a goody two shoes. There’s a subversive streak under this long hair and diamond nose pin you forced on me.’ But nothing is said that day. Or the next. She tries more and more outrageous things. She leaves the pocket Kamasutra out where it can be seen. Walks her through Soho, past the sex shops and peep shows. She leaves her taali hanging on the bathroom mirror. But all this is met with silence.
A month passes. It is time for her to leave. She sees her off at the airport and comes back to the flat. She feels a wave of sadness, wishing she hadn’t done all those things. What had she proved? Nothing.
She leans back in her seat and takes out some magazines from her handbag. Out of the corner of her eye she checks on her neighbour. Fast asleep. It is close to midnight and they are flying over a desert. She opens her Kalki and surreptitiously takes out the postcard and marvels at the man’s bottom; glad her daughter has inherited her good taste.