There are times when I get really absent-minded. I have taken wrong medicines, forgotten to change my shoes when stepping out, have sat in the wrong car…yes…after a spot of shopping at the Cottage Industries Emporium, I had opened the door of the car, put my packets on the seat and told the driver, “Chalo...” He had turned to look at me, completely surprised. It wasn’t the car and in fact the cellphone of the owner was on the seat. I could see my driver motioning to me from the window. I hastily apologised. The funny thing is except for the colour, nothing else about the car was the same.
Once, during a family wedding, there had been a small accident and the car had swerved. A few goons decided this was an opportunity to blackmail us. A relative who was with me asked me to quickly remove the jewellery as she had done; I did and stretched my hand out to give it to those guys. She pushed it away, “Don’t be stupid, I asked you to remove it so it is safe in your purse!”
Well, I don’t know if there is any virtue in all this except that I have spoken with ‘wrong numbers’ for 15 minutes, often thinking they are someone I know.
An incident that happened a while ago is worth recounting. We had gone for the film Parineeta. It was raining and by the time we got there, the film had begun. I brought out the crumpled tickets from my wallet. The doorman looked at it and said, “Yeh kaunsi film ke liye hai?” (What film’s tickets are these?)
“Parineeta…aaj ka show, ab ka show….” (Parineeta, today’s show, this show.)
“Yeh January 24th ki ticket hai!” (This is the ticket for January 24 – we were in June.)
How could it be? I looked into my purse again and found the other crispy light blue tickets, the valid ones. We reached when Lolita was being confronted by Shekhar, who was telling her that she had no shame… as a married woman she wanted him to touch her. Her face registered confusion. As the film unfolded, it became clear that she had retained what they had.
Why had I retained those old yellow tickets? The date does not seem significant. I cannot even recollect what film that was…perhaps it was just there, like so many things in my life.
On the way out I did something uncharacteristic. I don’t ever throw things on the road, but I took out both the blue and yellow tickets, scrunched them in my palms, dropped them on the ground and then I stamped on them. The streets were wet and parts water-logged. The tickets swam away. The bottoms of my trousers got even soggier.
My feet had ended up hitting nothing at all.