Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Waiting for Murakami

I am sitting on a bar stool, hoping to finish my drink without more than two men approaching me, eyeing me like an on-sale item, trying to sit too close to me or spew their beery breath into my face like it was a gift. With a bloody Mary at hand, I toss around some old thoughts again, chewing the cud, just by myself. My left eye is twitching madly, a bad sign, I am sure, or was that supposed to be about the right eye. I can’t even think anymore. I am so tired, tired, tired. Tired like I could gulp down this drink like in a bloody second and just hoist up one eyebrow, yes, that’s right, get me another one. I won’t do it though, that snooty bartender is already looking at me some. What is it about a woman sitting alone in a pub that screams out, Hey watch me, I’m a loser, just like you; Do I have a sign or something wrapped around my head, a neon light blazing away? My skirt is carefully smoothed down my legs, slit held in, look no flesh showing, no imaginary stroke of thigh, no hiss of lycra on skin, not even demure little ankle visible. Everything tucked in, including my tail as I slink into myself.

Time goes by, as the cliché goes. Only, in my case, it seems to take its time about it. Two guys approach me, one of them rather cutesy, all hairless face, dolled-up clothes and sparkly innocence, I hate to bust him with my snarl, Yes, I’m waiting for someone. I don’t have the energy to be nice, like they pulled out this plug from behind me, and I am running on low battery now, going down down down, always sooner than anticipated. I should look around and find the cord somewhere, yank it up to my brain again, before I turn to jelly, a casualty of waiting, a squelchy puddle the only evidence. An hour. Fifteen minutes more. Hope moves away, comes back, same hairstyle, same shirt, wrong shoulders, wrong face, it moves away again. Permanently this time.

I looked around the place more leisurely now; I have nothing to wait for anymore, no watchful eye on the door, no telepathic communion with my mobile, hoping that thought makes it ring somehow. I won’t call, instead I try to mobilize the hell hath no fury kind of fury, but it doesn’t come to my rescue. Mostly I am just watchful, like an exceptionally clear-eyed owl. The place is just filling up now. Most of the tables on the ground floor have been taken by large groups of noisy friends, all trying to outdo each other and the music. The first floor is filled with stags, some of them leaning out of the ridiculous flimsy balcony, arty wooden slats and all, picking up a better view of legs, cleavage, butts, arms, whatever their pick is. I hope some of them fall and break their necks. At the bar are a few more singles, some of them looking at their digital watches every three seconds. The music is some lousy air supply, love syrup for the lonely and the mushy, slurping up any dregs for a concoction, a tired old splash for the world, hey come see my great love story. Sorry, world, I can’t oblige you today, my story just died somewhere around here, see if you can find some dismembered parts. I take an imaginary bow, like a pianist who got on stage and figures out he can’t play a thing today, the tuning is all wrong, excuse me.

I discover I have actually been nodding my head, some heads are looking at me in response, their owners slightly puzzled. I choose a random spot from all the heads, and land upon a man who looks Japanese. He is wearing a finely cut three piece suit, a pink shirt inside flashes out to me. His companion is a balding man who is talking continuously. From where I sit, the balding man looks like a cartoon character, his lips sending out continuous bubble words. Mr. Japanese man is not paying attention, he is looking at me, his pink shirt sending me silent messages. I recall something about tangled webs and deception, though I can’t say what exactly. The question is, should I do something about those messages or just let them be. When I start thinking about it really, why he is sending me these invisible threads in the air, these silent noises that only I can hear, I realize that he is Murakami. Haruki Murakami, big time Japanese novelist, master of the improbable, purveyor of the wondrous. While that may sound improbable in another world, surely it is coincidences like these that Murakami’s world runs on. By definition then, I have every probability of entering this improbable world. Fine then. I’ll just go with the premise that he is Murakami. Or, to make it more interesting, I’ll assign it a probability. A big fifty percent maybe. A fifty percent chance that he is Murakami and not just some shitty leering asshole.

What the hell, I will put it to the test. I will go upto him and say Kafka. If he is my man, he will give me a quiet smile. The invisible threads will crackle in the air, with all the force of an electric current. I won’t take it up though, no, I won’t stay for another drink, thank you. I will walk out with my head held up, that I met someone too.

10 comments:

Srihari said...

Good work with the thought process of the character.

TLW said...

Just impressive !!

ammani said...

Excellent. Taut. I like the way it ends.

Sunil said...

quite nice........and i like the ending. But the second and third paragraphs meandered a bit, methought.....

apu said...

Sri, TLW - Thanks.

Ammani - glad you liked the ending. Infact it was a bit of a challenge to me, I wasnt really sure which way to go.

Sunil - thanks for the feedback. i went through it again, and yes, I agree, para 2 does meander a bit, though i still feel 3 is essential to set the place...

chikuado said...

simply rocks! subtle, yet sure... quiet, yet confident. just love ur writing!

Amodini said...

Very nicely written and described - so much so that I get a real feel for the atmosphere.

apu said...

tks - chik & amodini...

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