"I have got some news to tell you", she whispered to me. Leaning across the table with her lean arms, she looked every bit secretive and conspiring as she sounded. Her almond eyes were narrowed in an unconscious attempt at highlighting her words.
I took a huge gulp of my latte and braced myself for the latest chunk of gossip that I expected her to come out with.
"You know Rajiv right? Of course, you know him.....you share a common friend right? Whats his name now???? The guy with the funny spiky hairstyle that makes him seem soooo gay....."
"Aniruddh. Anyway what were you about to tell me?" I cut in with the impatience so very typical of true-blood Ariens.
"Relax honey....whats the big hurry?" She winked and went on to light a cigarette. Marlboro Lights....her usual....!! She took two drags and blew rings of smoke in the air above us. Seeeing the faint crease of contempt on my forehead, she laughed....the usual mocking laughter Iam so used to.
"Yeah....so the point is.....well...Rajiv and I are...whaddya call it... "going STTEEADDYY" !! She rolled the last word on her tongue to add to the effect. Two thin fingers were making double quotes in the air.
"WHHAATT???? But you were....I mean...I thought Pritam was....." I stopped abruptly...suddenly aware of how incoherent I sounded.
"Yep...Pritam and I were going steady....But you see....its all very unsteady now"
The same mocking laughter rang out again...maybe a tinge of sadness in it
"Cut out the crap Dorah"...The suspense was just killing me.
"Okay...fine" She took one more long drag on her cigarette and flicked the ash on the scarlet red tablecloth. "Lemme put it this way. You see that butterfly there? If you try to hold on to it, pinch its wings between your fingers, enclose it inside your fist...do you think it will be happy? Do you think it will stay? No...mon cher ami....it will just fly off. Pritam treats me just the same way....I feel so...so f#$$%#$ stifled". She finished her Irish coffee in two quick gulps. I was still toying with my latte.
"But Rajiv...he is such a sweetheart. He knows I want my freedom. He lets me free....and I choose to go back to him and be near him....just like the butterfly. Life's so much better with him. I thought about it a lot....and I have come to a decision...so please dont try to talk any wordly sense into my head"
I guess she would have seen the thoughtful look on my face. I buried my face in my cuppa coffee.
She dug out a 100 Rs note from the back pocket of her denims and put it on the bill. It didnt take me all my engineering studies to know that the discussion was over. I picked up my backpack and stood up.
"Rajiv treats me just like a butterfly. And guess what...with all the experience that I have with men...I can bet my a$% that even if tomorrow I were to become a moth...he wud still treat me like a butterfly"....With a final mocking laugh she ruthlessly flicked the cigaratte butt into the ash tray...the coup-de-grace
As we walked outside....I stopped to enjoy the pleasant late spring weather. Four or five butterflies hovered above our head. Lovely, colourful creatures...they were busy in a dance of their own....oblivious to the fact that they make and break relationships, blissfully ignorant of the realisation that complex human decisions are based on their simple and seemingly useless dance.
I wondered.....and moved on....