Bhavna stormed out the metro station. She had fallen asleep on the train ride and had woken four stations after hers. She blamed it on the youngster whose shoulder served as her pillow. She had specified which station to wake her up at. Perhaps her smile had really entranced him when she asked to use his shoulder.
She was to meet up with Ranjit half an hour ago, and she could already see him slumped by his chabudai into a pile of misery. Even the mental picture made her smile. Her baby-faced lover had that knack of always making her smile.
In her haste, Bhavna forgot to hail an auto rickshaw. The grumbling clouds quickened her pace. She hated yellow skies more than overcast conditions, despite loathing rain. She kept preparing her explanation for the delay all along the way. As she started climbing the staircase, she resigned to playing it by ear.
She could never be prepared for what was in store for her.
The chabudai made for all the furniture in Ranjit’s hall but seeing it toppled created a sense of disarray. The ceiling fan was moving up and down rather than rotating, its motion and sound suggesting it was trying to remove a tight pair of jeans. The apartment reeked of the Single malt whiskey lazily oozing out of the bottle on the kitchen counter. The window at the other end of the room banged against the pane with the gathering wind. But what Bhavna noticed was the smudges of yellow all over the wall and floor.
Her first reaction was revulsion, for she had taken it as scatological scattering. But her nose suggested otherwise.
“Ranjit?” called out Bhavna, weaving her way through the yellow free spots on the floor. A muffled moo and a feline hiss answered her call.
Curiouser and curiouser!
Before she could solve the maze and cross the yellow stained floor, Ranjit came running out his room. She recognized him by his bouncing belly, for a cat was strapped to his face. Bhavna sidestepped and watched him run around the room frantically. She marvelled at how – despite being bereft of vision – his feet avoided the yellow blobs of pineapple cake on the floor.
Her thoughts jinxed his motion. His foot landed on and flew off a yellow jelly.
Ranjit’s strong arms couldn’t master the cat’s grip, but the sight of his falling body convinced her to let go instantly. She pushed off and landed on her paws in a move that would make a ballerina sweat nervously.
It trotted out the window as if nothing had happened, just the way Bhavna walked towards Ranjit. She helped him up and sat him down by the only furniture in the hall.
“I hate that cat! I don’t understand how my flatmate can like the species! Always laying claim on everything!”
The impassioned torrent of words gave Bhavna a start. She wiped the cake from his cheeks and gave him a nod.
“I took out this pineapple cake from the fridge and set it on the counter. Dancing around the kitchen with a glass of scotch in hand, I removed the lid. Before I could take a bite, the monster came out of nowhere. It was on my shoulder before I could blink, stretching its tongue to dip it in my glass! I shooed it away but it jumped on the cake. It…it ran around…”
“Shh,” said Bhavna as Ranjit’s words failed him. She could see how it unfolded thereafter. Ranjit slumped into a pile of misery by the re-erected table. The surroundings made it slightly different than her mental image, but Bhavna’s smile was wider. She hugged him tighter than the cat hugged his face.