Saturday, April 16, 2005

The voice I hear…

I stood undecidedly in front of the Sify Internet parlor…

Picking up my mobile from my bag I called my room mate, “What time is it in New York now?”
“9.15 in the morning…”

As all Internet parlors go, the place was musty and smelled of sweat. An old air conditioner whirred with unfailing regularity…

Two cubicles. Thank god I am not fat. I wouldn’t have been able to stand comfortably in one. I have this thing about closed spaces- claustrophobia is the word if the case is extreme… I’ve never tested it…

I dialed the number. “You have reached the voice mail of…”
I knew it. That’s why I never call him when I most want to speak to him. Its the surest way I wouldn’t!

I call him when I am calm and collected. A;; emotions under a rein. In control…
Then I can talk about the weather. About the taxis in New York… Indian taxi drivers… About his friends-the tall one and the short one. About his work. Mine too. About sisters and mothers…

I tried again. I was subject to the same monotonous voice that would have repeated the same lines a hundred thousand times, the same monotonous voice that will repeat the same lines a hundred thousand times…

He’s told me a number of times, “Leave a message”. Its partly the ridiculousness of talking to a machine… its partly, “What message do I leave?”. I never call him up to talk a specific topic…I call him to… I just call him…

Walking out of the parlor, I contemplated-give it up and call him another day and just take an auto home now, shall I?

An auto whizzed past. Seeing me stand there wondering, he instinctively pulled over… The auto sputtered on…I shook my head in the negative to his questioning glance… I walked on searching for another Sify cafe…

No two Sify Internet centers are near each other. At least in Chennai… At least, wherever in Chennai I looked for them…

I learnt that day that I could not decide on a topic and think about it while I was walking. I was supposed to think of all the happy times we’d shared. Instead I found myself thinking how much life’s changed after he’d gone.

I must have walked a good 20 minutes, before another red board announcing “Sify” I found. I called up my roommate again. “What time is it in New York now?”
“9.40 in the morning”

There was only one cubicle here. Tiny would describe the place and there would still be room…

00171890….

I was holding the receiver tight and kept hoping, “Please let it ring…”

I was surprised when it did.

The connection was not the best. There was a few seconds delay between what he said and what I heard…every time…

That had never happened before…when we sat beside each other, reading books and glanced at each other every few minutes to smile… That had never happened when we walked in the scorching afternoon sun in the deserted beach of Chennai when I was mentally cursing myself for having forgotten my sun block cream… That had never happened when we sat opposite each other and yelled to be heard over the din and the always busy Dhabba near our office… That had never happened before…

I talk to him. Replies were given. A few questions were asked in return. Replies again. I never talked to him what I wanted to…

A few goodbyes later, when the bill was high and my purse was light, I pressed the disconnect button with my finger… I could hear the bill being printed, when I said; “I miss you so much….”

15 Comments:

Blogger Accidental Fame Junkie said...

Poornima: you need a big hug *hug*... I know what you are going through. Long distance relationships are very strenous. But don't worry.. things will work out. On the happy side, you write well...I could almost feel that I was by your side when you made that phone call. You brought that out very well. :)

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucky New Yorker ;p
Thanks Poornima. Thank you for being brave and having that much talent.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's not me!!!

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well i'm not that well mannered, unfortunately or fortunately.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Phoebe: There is nothing to 'work out' anymore... Thank you for the hug! :o)

'Anonymous': Lucky You , Mr. New Yorker (That's also the name, without the 'Mr.' part; of a restaurant we went, remember?
Well mannered- I dont know... But I like you just the same!

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's utter confusion here! New York? Never been there! Must be that you're talking to the other anomymous one. I'm the one who is not well mannered, consquently I didn't say THANK YOU!

11:53 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Anonymous@Mauritius: You deserve to be spanked! Why are you confusing my poor anonymous@New York? You are definitely not well mannered- but as I said before, I like you, though I wonder why!

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anomynous@mauritius: You wonder? I thought you had all les raisons du monde to like me! well-mannered... well that's really beyond me!

12:17 AM  
Blogger sixtyfourarts said...

kadhal kottai???

6:05 PM  
Blogger Kraz Arkin said...

Missed a lot of your writing I see. Loved all of it. Take care - I too have suffered enough of those overseas calls and machine-voices.

11:17 PM  
Blogger cactusjump said...

tired of makin love on the telephone, when you're so far away from me...tight hug...take care.

12:25 AM  
Blogger ashish said...

This is my turn to say " I know what you are talking about but I wish I did not"

2:10 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

64 arts(?): Of course not!

Kraz: Thank you... What you say means a lot...

Cactusjump: I seem to be getting hugged quite often! Am loving it!

Ashish: I wish you and I didnt!

2:20 AM  
Blogger glimmer said...

"I never call him up to talk a specific topic…I call him to… I just call him…"

that was the best line and the sweetest i have read!

4:02 AM  
Blogger sanchapanzo said...

Poornima,

Is this a 'soul-mate syndrome'?

Somehow this untold-content in a conversation makes up a good viewing in cinemas/books, wonder whether they work out the same way in life!

10:56 AM  

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