The less time there remains in your life, the less you want to waste it. I and Ila strolled out of the Interior-Café not with second but the last chance of rekindling our long lost relationship. Atmospheric electricity sent mysterious squalls of frangipani and jasmine lingering in fragrant air pockets while it rained. I felt a sense of calm, also a sense of purpose, perhaps the last purpose of my life. I inquired Ila what is she writing about in her new book as we leisurely walked towards my home navigating the rainy streets of Kolkata beneath an umbrella.
She answered with her vision directed towards her feet – Well… I have just begun with writing a non-fictional piece about relationship and stuff. I hope it comes out well. For now I would rather concentrate on bread pudding… she said shifting her gaze from her feet to me.
Well course. Now that you have agreed to get your tickets cancelled unlike that day …it definitely calls for a celebration.
She looked at me as if trying to access my motives and my truthfulness.
The traditional art of making Bread Pudding lives on in my café’s kitchen but not everyone get to savor the kind I make –
Crispy, caramelized and heavy on milk and cream…said Ila stealing my words and we broke into laughter.
On reaching home, I gestured her to get inside as she stood at the entrance watchfully observing the living room.
I asked Ila to make herself at home and went towards the kitchen to prepare coffee. She settled on the decision of having one cup more and hence we decided on making bread pudding post dinner. I came out holding a tray with two cups brimmed with coffee and saw something which restrained me from stepping any further. From a distance I saw Ila closely looking at a wooden rectangular photo frame she held with her right hand. She loosely gripped a phone in her left hand and it appeared that she was recently on call. The picture in the photo frame was clicked by a gentleman in Millennium Park with a 600 Sans Polaroid Camera. It was taken the same day Ila informed me that she will be soon moving along with her family to London and within a week she left. I look normally serious in the picture, while – Ila is slightly turning in towards me. Not looking up at me but equally not looking at the camera. In other words, not looking at me. It wasn’t how you might think – we didn’t want a witness, we didn’t want to show off that we were in love; she was just easy to be with.
I slinked towards the living room, putting the tray aside and stood behind her making a tactical move. Our mirrored selves could be seen in the 11 by 6 frame. She rolled her eyes back and turned towards me with a quick and impulsive movement. There was a smile on her face as if I’d suddenly gone senile and needed treating with pitying affection. While Ila was handling over me the frame a movement outside the main door caught my attention. Something in the door clicked several times and it swung open. Two policemen walked in with an arrest warrant against me. I was wrongly accused of supplying arms and ammunitions to a terrorist group. I lost the grip of frame in my hand and it fell on the ground with tiny bits of glasses scattered over the wooden floor. How impossible things sometimes happened, things you wouldn’t believe unless you’d witnessed them for yourself.
At that moment everything started making sense to me. Why after having spent 30 years in London living a married life she readily agreed to my proposal of spending the rest of her lifetime in Kolkata? Why she must have not taken a month to show up in the café, if only she would have known that it belongs to me? I look into her eyes with an urge to find a hint of regret. The same eyes that were in the same head when we first met, shopped, cooked and holidayed. And were the same when we separated. We listen to what people say, we read what they write – that’s our evidence, that’s our corroboration. But if the face contradicts the speaker’s words, we interrogate the face. A shitty look in the eye, a rising blush, the uncontrollable twitch of a face muscle – and then we know. We recognize the hypocrisy of the false charm, and the truth stands evident before us.
10 years have passed to that incident and it has been proven by the court that I am not culpable for the crime. It had been a slow and painful business discovering that the theory of love did not match with the reality of life.