T is for Truth or Dare

T Here’s a story about one of my favourite games. This is a story of why I like it so much. I give you T is for Truth or Dare for today’s A to Z Challenge.

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T is for Truth or Dare

What an interesting game. Played between strangers, it’s a round of showing off. Exhibitionism minus context, the spills just enough to thrill, not enough to chill.

It’s nostalgia, when it’s between people who’ve known each other a long, long time. Each one adding the finest of strokes to crystallize a shared memory. Even if it is secondhand and they’ve heard it so many times before that they feel they know it.

But Truth or Dare only ever really comes into its own when it’s played between people who know only a little but matter a lot to each other. How about newlywed husbands and wives, does that describe them?

When Mubeen told me about the dinner, I had an inkling it was going to be an important evening. Sahil and Roshan had been at the wedding but I barely remembered them. Lisa I knew, from meeting her a few times. And I was yet to meet the fabled Amara. I was worried about what to wear but perhaps I need not have been. They were all so busy watching each other, watching out for each other and watching for each other that they never noticed me. And I came home with a different sense of my husband.

Amara turned out to be nice enough, if not as harsh as they had all portrayed her. Or maybe I was the only one who saw the look on her face, when Roshan asked her who her first crush was. Her eyes darted across the room to mine and returned to the bottle on the floor. Her answer prompted a number of jokes, a story coaxed out of her, till she ended with a triumphant flourish. Everyone was taken aback.

Roshan followed, with a dare that he ‘suggested’ himself – a pole dance. And while the others laughed and hooted, I saw Sahil tap his phone. Seconds later, Amara looked at hers. Her eyes flicked up to Sahil again. I expected her to snigger but instead, she thumbed something and slipped the phone back into her pocket. She didn’t look at Sahil again till the dance was over. And after that, she ignored the phone so diligently, that there was no doubt in my mind, who was responsible for it flashing intermittently in her pocket.

Mubeen had once mentioned that Amara had had a thing for Sahil in college. I think he once even said that they had gone around together for awhile. Or maybe he thought they did. Amara didn’t seem to care anymore, if she ever had. If I had to guess, I’d have said it was the other way and Sahil was the reason Amara had a less than friendly reputation in their circles.

When Roshan came back and sat down, he steadied himself with a hand on Sahil’s knee. But after he’d settled back in, he didn’t move his hand. Sahil either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Mubeen tossed him a 50 paise coin to circle over Roshan’s head and tuck into his waistband. Roshan accepted with great pleasure, more pleasure than I thought possible for a ham performance. He seemed to like Sahil’s hand on his hip.

Mubeen was allowed some ‘grace period’ since he had a new wife to impress – or so they said. But they forgot about him and he never had to take a turn at the bottle.

Lisa is the one who really surprised me. She didn’t bat an eyelid when Roshan suggested a mujra. She laughed in delight when Amara suggested Roshan acquaint himself with a cold shower. And she only smiled when Sahil asked her who she’d like to ‘do’ that night, if she had a chance to. I don’t think I even remember what she ended up doing for her dare that night. But I do remember how it ended.

First she shivered slightly and asked Mubeen if he’d reach out and turn the AC down. He had to get up and go to the window to get the remote control. Then she stood up and moved till she was next to Sahil. She looked at Amara when she sat down. And I noticed, Roshan’s hand had gone back to his pocket. Then she fixed her gaze on me and said,

Following her gaze, Sahil pointed to me and said,

“New girl’s turn.”

Mubeen was still at the window, fussing with the remote control. It was blowing the air up and down as he bashed the Sweep setting. I saw Lisa lean in and say something, her eyes never leaving me. And Sahil said,

“Tell us something you haven’t told your husband yet.”

I relaxed. Now we were talking. I looked to my feet, then up again (into Lisa’s eyes) and I said,

“I am really good at reading body language.”

Roshan giggled. Amara shrieked a lewd question at me. Sahil as he ordered me to elaborate as he leaned back in his seat, one hand on Lisa’s back. Lisa didn’t crack a smile. When she moved forward slightly, causing Sahil’s hand to slide off, I knew she had got the message. She wouldn’t be trying her games with me.

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T is for Truth or Dare

*Image (without text) via Gualberto107 on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I'm Jill's Social Microscope

Lunch at the cafe, alone. At long last. My thoughts and I dine together.

The host wants me to sit in any one of the dingy corners and ignore the brighter, roomier booths in the center. I make a wry face so he concedes and lets me take the bright corner. The cafe isn’t even crowded after all.

They enter some five minutes after I’ve settled down, by which time I’ve placed my order and am sipping my wine. I notice him first. All I see is the back of their heads and a profile view in a flash.

He looks familiar…for a vague instant. In that not so nice way that makes you glad you spotted the person first and hope they don’t notice you back. He probably looks a little like the friend of someone I want to forget. That’s still too close for comfort but not so close that I want to scat. She’s totally unfamiliar in a familiar way. That is to say, she’s the typical nice-looking, a tad too ‘healthy’ to be one of the stick-insect-model-types. An Indian woman. A pretty Indian woman.

What strikes me is their clothes. Ah, his clothes. He’s wearing a mildly striped full-sleeved shirt with cotton trousers. It’s not quite formal enough to be workwear but it seems a little too dressy for Saturday. Unless, ah of course. One of those dates that he feels he must dress up a bit for. Still dude, it’s just nearing 2pm, that shirt is Saturday evening territory we’re meandering into.

For awhile I wonder what it would like if I were his ex- and he were to spot me. The carefully coiffed look would probably shatter in an instant. He’s really trying very hard to be on his best behaviour and impress the girl with him. And what if he were to bump into someone he didn’t treat that good, who knew him well…only too well…underneath that polish.

But he’s nervous. His hands aren’t quite shaking but there’s that high-strung air of tension surrounding his being and I can feel it sitting 30 feet away. Like when she takes a call on her cell, he turns his face away in an attempt to appear polite and respect her privacy. But he’s fidgety and the minute she hangs up, I can almost see him counting his breaths before he can turn around and resume conversation.

His smiles and laughter seem a little too eager. Not quite offensive but just like he’s relieved to be able to laugh off some of the tension. She, on the other hand, is natural. Smiling just enough, movements easy. Almost. Her gaze wanders ever so slightly in each direction. Sizing up. The surroundings, the people around, the arena. She’s playing and she’s just taking stock of the field.

That taken care of, my attention returns to him. It’s not that she’s uninteresting, she’s just ‘figured out’. Besides his nervousness draws me again. And I wonder what makes him so nervous. He obviously wants her to like him. Why?

Is it because he likes her as much? What does he want from her? Reciprocation of affection? A night or a weekend in bed? Respect? A month or so as trophy girlfriend? Awe and devotion?

My chicken satay is here and my glass needs a refill. I set to devouring my solitary, perfect lunch and put aside the messy questions of people for awhile. When I look up again, their orders have arrived and they’re waiting for the waiter to finish serving. Then they wish each other Bon Appetit and start eating. I walk out, content with a good meal and some foodside realtime entertainment.

Hands

I saw this girl on a train. I couldn’t see anything of her, shrouded as she was in her traditional garb. But her hands caught my attention…they were so enticing. This then, is my ode to a stranger’s sensuality.

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Enclosure

To touch and feel
Hold..clasp….grab….clutch
and smoothen

Not for me, however.
Sheathed and protected
Demure, ladylike, unobtrusive

One mightn’t even suspect
The same sensuality of me
As of anyone

 

Except an occasional idle observer who notices
One finger caressing the strap, lovingly, longingly almost
And the other hand curved smoothly over a bright pink bag

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