On a Friday’s Afternoon

At lunch hour, on a Friday’s afternoon, the restaurant was less than half full; it seemed, the number of people were neither decreasing nor increasing.  Since I had voluntarily decided to skip lunch and simply sip on a cup of coffee, I found ample moments to observe the small limited crowd near where I was sitting.   You see, the incredible buffet system fulfilled its cherished mission to see the guests (which included my husband) come exploring every distant nook tucked with choice-laden food arrangements.  The smiling chef at the live-station for Asian cuisine was developing the skills of some, who asked him varied and relevant questions.  He was explaining, “Heat a wok on high heat, not on low heat.  Add garlic only when oil is hot and add the eggs but scramble briefly.”  Unlike traditional practicing students learning the art of cuisine, this stringy batch of food-relishers, (plus my husband) were to catch the in-depth of the fast moving demonstration for only those two minutes, and later pass on to other food-stations.


Meanwhile, the truth out here: by my next table was that the young couple who was dressed in a fine holiday-style apparel had not spoken a word to each other – not even a word; their two children of five and four picked up a few terse instructions of their mother and some action from their father, when he showed effectiveness in fetching another ice cream, or telling the little guy not to stray away too far from the table.  The husband-wife could have been email users at an Internet Café, armed with arch-rivalry in business interests!  The open-secret of their grim silence was noticed by my husband, as well. “See, they’ve taken an oath, not to speak to each other.  We should try doing it,” he said jokingly, to me.  At a slant, we could see the young man; he was rooting out the shells from his jumbo prawns… tons of prawns whose tails were marching out of the large servicing plate.  The lady resembled Nicol Kidman, except that she had destroyed the tenderness of her pretty face by constantly looking sullen.  In a roundabout way, she could have played the part of a bad-natured Kidman, I was thinking.  The margins of her tension were spilling out at their table and it was not difficult to see the matrimonial friction; on a par, it could well be the lassitude of boredom between the spouses. What was the truth out there?  I hoped it was just one of those days, or a period of time, which strong marriages: tide over.


The above prose-text was written by the author on 27th July 2009.


Geeta Chhabra


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