Folk Talk: Matchbox Stories: Lovely



Here at the club, reeking of booze and sweat. Moths flitting about, flies in my mutton curry––dog-tired, sinking low in the old leather, nursing a beer. It’s Sunday, I’m hung over, bitter about the night before, fighting with the parents over the future––and what of your career?! The bearer’s so old, I feel like having the press-wallah iron his face flat. Dead men at the bar, naps in the loo. Playing billiards with old classmates, bloody bores moaning about office jobs, stinking of pickle and cheap cologne. Bearers lingering––Saab, saab, whiskey pani? Swallowing half the bar, I’m a lazy motherfucker. Mad aunties prowl around, whispering gossip––gup shup––sour-faced daughters trailing behind.

If you were here, we’d lie on deck chairs by the pool, sip our gimlets, smoke ourselves silly––built by a hundred brown hands for the Brits who lolled about, dead drunk under mosquito nets, hiding from our bloody world. We’ll watch the ladies glide, eye the Sadars––bathing caps shoved over coiled hair––floating on their backs, arms lazily reaching backwards––jigly, jigly, swish swash. 

Do you dance, dear Julia? We have a dance floor here, it’s ancient but gets the job done––tiny springs just under the wood, can you imagine! Gives a lovely bounce––

Yeh raat yeh chaandnii phir kahaan

Sun ja dil ki daastan

Where will we find this night and this moonlight again?

Listen now to the story of my heart

And I’d dance for you, on this floor, on that floor––roll in the sands of an exotic locale, sweep you down to lovely old Goa with its whitewashed churches. Be your Hollywood hero in my linen suit, crooning a sad melody. Serenading you, my weepy eyes doling out their sad business, strumming my guitar at you, the palm trees swaying silently round us––ah, but I’d never kiss you, I’d never touch you . . .

Do ek pal aur hai yeh samaa

Sun ja dil ki daastan

We have but a few moments left of this atmosphere

Listen now to the story of my heart

Shelagh Power Chopra’s work appears in FRIGG, failbetter, The Good Men Project, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Necessary Fiction, and elsewhere. She runs the website, a fictitious account of a relationship gone wrong. She lives on Cape Cod and is working on a novel. More from this author →