He looked at the fair skin near the neck, the collar bone that scooped out a deep hollow, the long neck that sloped softly into the pearly sari. She seemed like a child, a play mate from his village hiding and waiting to be revealed. His eyes softened and rested on her a whole minute wishing her not to look at him, for he knew that if their eyes met the temptress would drag him to the mud.
He looked at the things in the drawer of his table, the things that she forgot during her visits to his room – a wooden bangle, a large ear stud, a vaseline tube, an eyeliner bottle. He packed these trivias and dropped them in the garbage can outside the house. He did not realise that he still carried the bus ticket that she used as a book mark in his book on Kural, and a browned jasmine flower pressed accidentally between the pages.
She was dressed in a dark blue sari, the turquoise stone on her ears caught the fluorescent light and threw a pale glow on her cheeks. She had painted her lips a deep pink, her hair was drawn in a formidable bun, a red rose was tucked on a side of the bun. She had pulled her sari tight over her chest and the curves of her breast heaved as she breathed deep. There were lines near her mouth, and her eyes were puffed. She was evidently in a turmoil.
He threw open the window and a view of the canopy of the rain tree suddenly transformed the room. The pink brush-like blossoms of the tree lay on the ledge of the window. She picked a flower and ran the flower gently down her neck as he cleared space in the room and in his mind to accommodate her presence.
The mango blossoms in the tree are hardening into protrusions under whose weight the stalk gently dips. A few embryonic mangoes have already fallen and spilled on the ground. If all the blossoms that drape the tree like a yellow gossamer become mangoes there will be thousands of them. With so many of the flowers swept by the breeze, with the few of the remaining spilling while still very young, only a few dozens will ripe to adulthood in a tree.
She sat on the hard floor and greased her hands with oil. She held the firm stalk of the banana tree flower and observed it, mentally calculating the many layers of sepals that cradled dozens and dozens of flowers that she would rip away, and cut. She removed the first layer of the deep purple sepals and gently tugged out the pearl coloured flowers, she prized open the tips of the flowers and pinched the black seeds out. Her mother had taught her how to do this fast, and had warned her that if she were to skip this out of laziness, the dish would turn bitter. She dexterously held the bunch of flowers together and chopped them finely. She soaked the chopped flowers in butter milk to remove the residual bitterness. As she peeled the layers of sepals they turned a lotus pink in colour, the flowers turned translucent and fragile.