Friday, December 24, 2010

The Face from the Book/Quel dommage


She saw the happy and contented face of her bespectacled friend whom she had not met for more than seven years on Facebook. She surmised that lovely wife and a lovelier daughter was the reason for that look of contentment on that face, which looked a bit puffed up. It brought memories back. Both of them were jobless back then. For him nothing in the world was sacred. He could make anything and everything look ridiculous with his silly imagination and irreverent logic. That was the time she used to maintain Notes on People, ingeniously merging, observed and imagined physical characteristics and personality traits of different people to kill boredom. That was the time they took pleasure in learning and using french words. That was the time they found nonsensical joy in chatting with strangers under fake identities. She had 'enlightened' him that typing in Upper Case while chatting meant shouting. She remembered how afterwards grinning from ear to ear he had continued to ‘shout’ in the chat room while she was ROFL. She could not remember the jokes he sent to her but remembered the laughter, glee that was the result of the jokes. She remembered how she had dropped her handset in horror when he had sent her an utterly obscene joke and how hesitant she was to pick up the handset as if it had been dirtied by it. She also remembered how he had dismissed her objections to obscenity and attributed it to her prudishness. His matter-of-fact attitude had emboldened her to discuss issues, often to his surprise, without the fear of being judged. She had felt completely free and liberated.
But how abruptly everything had come to an end. He stood her up one evening at the cafe. He neither called again nor tried to meet her. She received neither explanation nor apology for his inexplicable behaviour and silence. She did infact see him once more. She wanted to convey how wounded and angry she was through just one look. Had he given her a look of recognition, she could have done that. But he looked through her. How could he? more than Why did he? enraged her and extinguished the desire for reconciliation. No self-respecting girl, leave alone an egotist like her, forgave and forgot being stood up, she reasoned.
She again looked at the face on the screen. En famille photo in the profile. Three people becoming one in one single profile, she smiled to herself.  Suddenly on an impulse she fished out the Notes to read her description of him. A chill went through her spine when she opened the page in which she had written about him. Bold letters in his writing glared at her.
CRAFTY, SCHEMING CHIENNE. SHAME ON YOU. DAMN YOU.
With palpitating heart she read the entries.
Looks: Tall, bespectacled, handsome but not dark! Intelligent eyes, sharp nose, dimpled chin, curly receding hairline. Broad shoulders, hairy limbs. Strong, Muscular body.
Persona: Diffident, depressed loser. Unenthusiastic, lazy glutton. Has neither ambition nor goals in life. Taker not a giver. Like all men fixated with one single idea.
'It was a mix-up, they don't even match', she cried and trembled in agony. Pain and guilt battled on the same side with increasing ferocity. Clenching and unclenching her fists she thought, 
should she try to do the explaining now, after seven years of misplaced trust? 

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