Now we were…
P arrived on time, 6pm;
which is 30 minutes late,
which is on time.
I was anxious, a worried man. We were having 4 people over, at a rented house – except for she who was the renter, all of us were guests. During curfew, gathering of 4 people of more was in violation of the law.
And that evening we would be 5.
First to arrive was P. A bubbly & zealous sort, she came across as warm, laughed at all my bad jokes, agreed to have the wrong beers. In short, the model guest.
Then they went out to the balcony to have a ‘j’.
I sat in the room with my tonic water, waiting for them to return. In that time, I caught up with the world online, replied to work emails, deleted junk on my phone, even texted a couple of random friends whom I knew wouldn’t bother replying back. Still, these guys showed no signs of coming back. Restless, I decided to join them.
I entered the balcony. The laugh subsided, they exchanged a meaningful look & promptly returned to the hall.
Mission accomplished – sort of.
Then came in G. But minus M.
Oh I forgot, S told me, M’s back’s been acting up again, so.
She got up to get P & M a beer, asked me if I wanted another tonic water. I wanted to pace myself, so I said no.
We spoke about M’s bad back, they gave me a little bit of history. the beer loosened up inhibitions, not that there were many. But the topics flowed – about M’s back, G waiting for vaccine shots, P’s trip to the hills. About how the economy is buggered & how Goa is so screwed by tourists and outsiders. I wisely chose to not point out how all of us are from Bombay.
My tonic water was over, I had switched to Thumbs-Up. Feeling relaxed, the conversation flowed. It didn’t matter that P had travelled from far, that G waited in line to inject himself with a sinister vaccine, that Goa was screwed.
All because we had not flouted the rule. Because we were four and not 5. I smiled and spoke freely till it was time for them to leave.
And just as they were at the door, She said –
All of you are invited to my birthday the coming week. It will be just us. And K who is visiting. Also M should be good by then.
They laughed and chatted some more at the door, not missing me, who was muttering curses already heading to the fridge to grab some more of the wretched cola.
Writing credits – Soni Anthony. Photo credits – geulgram.