It’s dark outside Kedaram, a shopping complex I may have gone to twice or thrice in all my years in Trivandrum. But it’s the middle spot we chose to meet, Dan and I. I look at my watch, 19-O- 1. I remember the blog lines in Ruminations – I hate people who do not respect others time. Whew, I feel good I made it. Dan’s name is on my phone now. “I am just parking,” she says. She is new here, in my land. It’s taken me three months just to drag Kweeki (my scooter) and come to see Dan. Why do we always push these things, when they are so easy? I step outside to direct Dan. 10 little steps, after five long years. Was it five or longer? I can’t be sure. There were so many of us back then. Writing and reading, commenting, sharing, making friends and favorites without knowing it. I shared Dan’s blog in mine and called it: Dhanya, good girl n good blog. I don’t know which post of her made Dan a good girl to me, or which words, a friend. But standing outside Kedaram, and waving to a smiling face across the road, I could sense no first meeting anxieties, no first lines to say forming in my head. I wait, happily, for a girl I knew for years.
“Park cheyaan paadupetto?” (Was it difficult to park?) I ask, like an everyday line to an everyday mate. She smiles, she speaks her Thrissur Malayalam. Surprised I know littler of a Trivandrum than her. “This is a part I rarely come to” I get defensive. We take our Kedaram juices. I want more. I want to get her a packet of Trivandrum Bolis she has heard about so much. The Sri Ananthapuri veg restaurant I drag her to has none. But we smell hot dosas and sit for two. She asks: “Weren’t you the one afraid to meet new people?”
“Yes, that’s me. I am,” I smile. “Weren’t you afraid to meet me?” she asks. “No, I never was.”
I am not sure why. I tell her I might have been a little nervous with Ush, another blog friend dear to us both. “But you, I always knew are a paavam”. “I see” she says. Is there in her face, a bit of that proper reservation one has for first time meetings. Am I speaking too much and too casually? I wonder but I go on about a trip I want to make. About how she should make more visits to the city, and that she will like it then.
I wonder now if I let her speak at all. Is that my way of dealing with first time visits? Speak too much and present myself unintelligent and then feel safe. Safe that the cover is gone. They know me now. I remember the first line I told Deepak, after four years of phone and chat conversations. “Nee aano Deepak” Are you Deepak? But that awkwardness went away with our first meeting. I would now see Deepak at a café next to my office with his wife and brother, and say: “Wow chocolate brownie, give me some!” With Dan, the first meeting awkwardness was not there. For me. I don’t know if I created it for her. For some reason, I am finding it easier to be me, the unreserved saying-what-comes-to-mind me, as years pass by. “Behave when you are outside,” my colleague would always murmur when I spin my skirt around and sing absently at the chayakada down our office. I forget to be conscious, I forget to be ashamed. I think I am growing up. Here at last is old age, with my second childhood.