The drive was few hours from Nagathone, and it was a remote village. Rahul knew he needed to get away; the day began to prefer talking on the phone to actually getting together with someone, he preferred the bodilessness of it, and started to turn down social engagements. He longer wanted to sit across from someone in a restraint, look at their face and eat food. He wanted to turn away, not deal with face, maybe he could have the waitress bring them two tin cans and some string so that they could just converse in a faceless dialogue.
He had come to this place for a destination wedding, and he looked at everything happening around, the sound … not really it was a cacophony, just then a pretty young thing came up to him, in a designer “Navaari,” presumably the waitress serving the wedding party, she was short and wisps of curly hair, tied up in a pretentious urban visual of a rural girl’s hairstyle. Not to mention the nose ring in place.
She was actually quite efficient, she took their orders efficiently with a put on Maharashtrian accent, it was like Tom Alter pretending not to know Hindi, and she delivered everyone’s food correctly too
“Hope you liked the food sir,” she said with a smile.
“And your stay too.” She treated him like a normal human which was rather a forgotten experience for Rahul. “If only she knew my story,” Rahul mused, a thought then flicked by, “Better Yet, maybe she is in the middle of her own story.”
Who knew what had already happened on this island to this typical, college-age waitress he wondered.
Just then raised voices and verbal abuses were heard.
“Manjusha, tu zaa mi bhagto” said an authoritative voice, it looked like he owned the place.
The waitress brought in the dessert that Rahul had ordered.
“Oh! Nothing new, lot of these guys behave like they have hired us, when they rent place. ”
“Does it upset you?”
“It used to not anymore, now I realize a man who goes into a restaurant and blatantly disrespects the servers shows a strong discontent with his own being. Deep down he knows that the restaurant service is the closest thing he will ever experience to being served like a king. That gave me lot of strength to face these kinds of people.”
“Interesting, and now you are comfortable waitressing here”
“I am not a waitress here, actually none of us are, and if we were I would not be having a conversation with you I would be scuttling around.”
“Hmm, so have been a waitress or did you just jump into this story?”
“Well I have been a waitress, when I did my undergrad, and believe me I was really a good waitress. Waitressing takes certain gusto. You need a good memory and an ability to connect with people fast. You have to learn how to treat the kitchen as well as you treat customers. You have to figure out which crazy people to listen to and which crazy people to ignore. I loved waiting tables because when you cashed out at the end of the night your job was truly over. Wipe down your section and paid out your busboy you knew your work was done.”
Before he could say anything, she said, “Could you excuse me, I still have an hour before I finish for the day.”
Rahul decided to walk through the property that pretended to be woods. Actually it was like its name, The English Wood. An English wood is good many things in life – very promising at a distance, but a hollow mockery when you get within. Rahul could see sunlight on both sides, and sun freckles the very bracken. The woods needed the night to make them seem what they ought to be — before our ancestors descendants demanded so much more.
The ambience brought back memories of a grandfather, who lived all alone in their family home surrounded by trees. Refusing to come to the urban area, he could still hear the old man declaring in a loud no arguments tone, “you are right, I am not good at moving in society. Be merciful, you do not understand me, I live here junglaat… (In the woods) by choice—that is my happiness. Here I am all alone, it hurt one that I am as I am; but when I go among others, I have to use all my will power to be as I should ” it was a moment of epiphany who genes played out, the old man could have been speaking about him i.e. about Rahul.,
Between the trees Rahul saw specks of sunlight, the old man came back in his space to tell him,”baal, Rahul, any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure spontaneous pleasures are patches of God light in the woods of our experience.”
It was like the old man was watching him, and letting him known that he was watching him, by replaying those old conversations. His grandfather did not tell him how to live; he lived and let Rahul watch him do it. Maybe that was how he was different from the crowd. He just watched different stuff, different from the crowd, that put in problems which were different than the crowd problems. Rahul smiled, as he recalled his grandfather, he never called watches watches, he called grasps, because grandpa claimed one, they grasp into your wrist, and two, time isn’t something you can watch.
prompt- Waitress, Wood and Watch.