"It was here, right? Wallrush. What was it, 3-4 years?"
"Yes. They had those film screenings inside. And folks on the pavement, strumming guitars to Shelter from the Storm. 2009. Summer. You were wearing ... let me see ... that white tee with an American eagle in blue in front. If you had worn that today ..."
"Hah! Haaah! Na, my sis took it with her. That would have been the complete package for you, wouldn't it? Another check, damn you!"
"Yep. What is life without look-backs in nostalgia. And those checks have all bounced, ne'er fear."
Jamini Roy eyes
Side-by-side on a worn staircase, bang on the pavement. Shared Goldflake and steaming chai in earthen cups. And faint glimmers of lost college heydays. Trying to relive as much as we could the magic of that first summer - kids just a year out of high school.
What did we lose on the way, I wonder. Being hammered on the anvil of life for the next 5 years.
"College life was shitty without you."
Yes, it could have been otherwise. Amicable, amiable and whatnot. Stayed in touch. But lord, what a story this sundering and sudden kinship makes!
"Does he read poetry to you? Long distance wooing?"
"Not really that sort. But that's the best part right -- the one you are with has to be different from ... this." Expressive arm wave, encompassing if it could the rickety wooden bench, the tea-stall, the bamboo-upheld awning. Passing beyond the heat, the shimmers of summers past, the sameness of it all even after all these years.
"Yes. Absolutely! You get it, right? I would want to be this lone solitary ranger thingy for as long as I can. Keep the juvenalia alive. And maybe... well, you must have a family by then. Well of course, the sole purpose of your family would be to provide a suitably cinematic setting for my story, right?"
Eye roll. Large, distended eyes. Like a Jamini Roy eye. shojolo-dholo ayoto aankhi. Hah!
Christmas, Bogart and Kill Bill
"OK - moving on! So naturally I would visit you for Christmas."
"This is after I have moved to New York. Yes, and you have taken me to meet your friends there."
"Indeed. That's another one. The wedding next year. Very film noir right, if I am part of the party giving away the bride?"
"Nah, that's the Hollywood movie part of your lost grails. Very proper old-school Hollywood. Not noir."
"Unless ... unless I plan a Kill Bill-"
"Oh shut up!"
"Anyway! Where were we - me visiting you over Christmas. A sudden visit - a la Agontuk. Naturally, a favourite 'Uncle' to your children. Strange, expensive presents and capering about. Oh, but you shouldn't have. Eto kichu korar ki dorkar ... ki je korish na. Stories galore of distant lands. Aar nijer ki khobor? Oh, I'm the confirmed bachelor boy. A firm handshake and a nod to your man - both honourable men, of course. You get the point?"
"Hah! Haaah! Go on then!"
"And then it's time for me to leave. A flurry of goodbyes and handshakes all around. It' snowing outside. Light snowflakes. Christmas lights in the distance. The taxi is waiting at the end of the short walkway."
"You must be in a longcoat. With the collar up. Make sure you have one."
Long shots and montages
"Aye aye, sir. And then, Madame, then! - At the very moment you are shutting the door, you hesitate for a fraction of a moment. What if? A nameless, senseless wondering at what that mad life would have been like if you had chosen a different path -"
"And that moment is the sole thing that gives your life meaning, that gives everything meaning!"
"Yes! YES! Exactly! But then you look back at the warm yellow light spilling onto the driveway. A welcoming fire by the hearth. Your children (yes, multiple dammit! Go forth and multiply and all that), their father and the real, tangible warmth of humanity. And you know your choices were all the correct ones, that that welcoming fire by the hearth is what a person needs."
"We then have a long shot, of you walking away.."
"I turn back once, just as you shut the door to go back to your family. A sliver of gold bands across the face briefly, then is gone. You do not look back."
Silence. You look up. I am suddenly aware of how much the same you look. And the hush of evening on sun-warmed stones.
"Cut to the taxi moving away?"
"No. Maybe the camera on a crane. Pulls away from the scene. The dark figure making its way slowly through the empty driveway."
Long shots and montages. That's how life should be played back.