Nayar sneaked out of the bustling dining room, now packed with madness and rhythm, to find a corner to stand at, preferably behind a plant. There are many potted plants in this flat. And many paintings. About half an hour back he was taking his time appreciating a Jamini Ray-esque painting in the narrow hallway to the bedrooms on the second floor. The painting was of animals only, with a single human figure lurking in the background. The animals – the cows, cats, dogs, and goats had their eyes drawn wide and big, probably as a tribute to Jamini Ray’s work. Nayar soon realized, the fern wasn’t providing much cover. His ears still needed a way out. He decided to visit the painting again.
‘I’ll grab a drink before heading upstairs,’ he set into motion a roadmap for the evening.
‘Do they have a terrace,’ he wondered.
‘Ah! One step at a time, he said to himself.’ He’s been trying to live in the moment. He doesn’t know how long before he can muster the courage to let go of his painting of the future. He knows it is difficult and will take time. His thoughts accompanied him on his way upstairs. But he couldn’t get to the painting as he had planned. There was someone already hooked to it, a glass lingering lazily in her fingers. Is that scotch! Nayar remembered, he forgot to grab his drink.
He leaned to look down the stairs as if to check on the prospects of going back to his plan – the drink, the painting, just him, and a quiet sneaky exit when no one’s looking. He has become particularly adept at this last bit. Reconsidering the options, his gaze returned to the Ray-esque painting. The girl is gone! He didn’t waste a moment getting back in front of the painting. Just as he stood in front of the wide eyes, he heard a door close nearby. He felt fresh air stealing its way in and treaded away from the canvas to find the source. He found a small balcony and the girl from before, standing. Hey, is that, what’s her name! From State College, his last roommate’s colleague from his lab. She will recognize him. He must say hi!
‘Hello’, she said in a tone politely, her eyes silently wondering – how can I help you?
Is that her? God, it’s dark over here. ‘Did you live in State College?’
‘Penn State? No?’
‘Ah. No. Sorry’. Again a polite smile.
‘Good! It would have been embarrassing if you were her. I have completely forgotten her name.’
She didn’t respond. The balcony is nice. There are plants here – creepers. It’s quiet too. Is it customary to leave now? Can she leave instead?
‘Would you mind if I stood here as well? It’s quieter than the dance floor,’ he asked.
They stood there in silence. Nothing happened.