[40] The blue of midday, the black of midnight, Chitra Gopalakrishnan

The menu is rolled classily in a delicate, white, silk scroll.

The waiter in white unravels it for me with a flourish, with a sort of liquid grace as if he is un-creasing a wave.

“Ready to order ma’am?”

He pivots towards me, his pen poised, eyebrows up, his clean shaven face alight and his smile stretching slowly.

Grilled fingerlings. Asian pear salad. Crab bisque with aioli and garlic croutons. Glazed, bruised sprouts. Smothered chicken.

The first few entries of the three-page hors d’oeuvres menu skitter into my vision.

Under the waiter’s scrutiny of me, the other listings run before my eyes, egg-white haphazard.

Their vintage typography streams in a watery mess.

“Maybe, the Asian pear salad,” I venture.

“Or wait, the crab sounds fantastic.”

“Perhaps, the sprouts, glazed and…” my voice trails off.

Air rush-fills my lungs, flickers in my mind, with a wilful intent to explore every possibility, only to infuse my body with the smell of waiting.

The waiter’s smile sags.

“Let me come back to you in a bit,” he says, tonelessly, as he fades out of focus.

I quickly shift my eyes towards the high-end restaurant, away from the waiter’s disappointment, his disapproval.

Every tiny detail of this high-end restaurant is effortlessly tied together in mother-of-pearl white and shot with just the faintest hint of silver.

Nothing too loud, too bright or too much.

Tables and chairs, table linen and placemats, china and stoneware, glasses and cutlery, upholstery and curtains, lighting and candles, flowers and art on the walls are matched in a quiet aesthetic, in sleek, luminous lines, in quietude, in togetherness.

I wish I am mass again. Indistinguishable, like this, from my parts, as dissolving drops of rain in the river.

I see the waiter heading towards me.

With each step, a thought occurs. With each step, a thought dissolves.

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