The air was less sultry now, the armpit rivers of smaller diameter.
The streets were empty save for a few shops open in the slow-cooling afternoon heat, adjacent buildings looming on either sides of the narrow road.
They walked slowly in their shade, peeping into antique/curios stores and shops selling overpriced tea and unreasonably large white kurtas for the tourist. This was the last stop before catching their separate trains back home, and the thought followed them just as the falling daylight.
“On a Sunday afternoon..,” she sang Groovin’ loudly as they slowed their pace. He smiled. It was Saturday. She had only suggested the song to him that morning and it wasn’t one of their songs, yet.
They could easily live in one of these places, narrow and long, winding inwards, calm. There would be a small verandah with cheap aluminium rails, the kind you see in some houses near the beach, with cycles parked out. Afternoons would be strong tea and a playlist that switched between his, hers, and theirs. They’d sit with friends in summer and in rain, which meant they’d have to make friends here first. The long winding house would be a mystery that opened itself just to the two of them, with partitions for walls and ceramics taken out only during tea. Rent would probably be up the roof though so it’s best they didn’t gamble their chance at business. Would it be odd, living among all of them? Are only Jews allowed to occupy places here? Their music wouldn’t gel with the aesthetic, no. And they were glass-people, not ceramic. Kochi wasn’t their place to be, though they’d miss Shahabaz Aman.
“Life would be ecstasy, you and me endlessly – ” , ending the song she dropped her head sideways and swiveled, stepping on and off the shade. Like during waves at the beach except he didn’t have to hold her from moving further away as she swayed back to him.
The melancholy suddenly taking over soon after the song ended, as if remembering their impending close, she asked, “What happens when I leave?”
He stopped to watch dreamcatchers hung between the buildings, pretending like he hadn’t heard. It was sad when she was sad.
“Am I Lola Milford?” She was watching him intently.
“No,” prompt came his reply and they continued walking towards the synagogue, brushing past the returning crowd, neither facing the other. He didn’t want them to drown, it was up to him now.
And as if suddenly deciding to lift the mood, she cheerfully jumped, almost like she might break into dance again to yet another song.
“Am I missing any of her 4 listed attributes? Para para!” Demanding an answer, threatening to pull his fat cheeks.
He gave it a pause.
“We’re too precious to be characters in a book.” He was serious, unlike his usual grinning self, still not looking her in the face.
“You mean we aren’t? Nobody’s too precious.” She stopped hopping and walked by his side again, with a face that looked like it’d been sad for far too long and had just cheated on a quick short break, and was back to being the sad self again.
They stayed silent and walked on, neither minding the surrounding anymore.
They halted in their tracks and sighed. The sign at the deserted synagogue read, “CLOSED ON SATURDAYS.” They stared at the silent white building for a while and then at the clock on its high wall.
He was slow but stern with his reply, filling in the shoes she’d left a while ago, his shadow falling on her as he turned.
“We aren’t in Lola, because you aren’t leaving. And neither am I.”
The frame coyly shifts away, and we’ll never know if the two kissed before they made their ways back home.
Closed on Saturdays.