I sit in the college canteen amidst the usual hustle-bustle of students, nursing a bowl of hot Manchow soup between my hands. The warmth feels nice on this dreary, cold morning. It has been raining continuously since yesterday afternoon, but knowing this is Mumbai, it will continue raining ceaselessly till tomorrow afternoon, if not longer. The wooden chairs painted a bright, sunshine yellow are the only spot of brightness under the dull gray sky, and I wonder if that is the reason they painted the chairs yellow in the first place. It is a strange colour to pick, without any thought or reason. Surely there must have been some reason…I pursue this train of thought for a while before realizing I am thinking about chairs!
With lack of anything else to do, I sip some of the hot soup, and burn my tongue as a result.
The cat comes up to me and meows piteously. The cat is our canteen cat. Nobody knows when and where she came from, but she is a constant presence in the college canteen. She isn’t an ordinary cat either. She has perfectly mastered the art of begging. She spends her days moving from student to student, meowing piteously and looking at us with pleading eyes (who knew a cat could master the ‘puppy eyes’ technique so well!) in a way that made it seem as if she has been starving for days (despite her fat girth). “Shoo!” I tell her, not knowing how exactly to serve soup to a cat. She gives me another adorably cute look, before realizing that I was going to stay firm.
With a final hiss, she moves on to the group at the next table. The girls ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over her, and as most of their kind do pet her belly and feed her tidbits from their plates; while the boys, as most of their kind do while the objects of their attention do not give them attention, glare sullenly. I spend a few more minutes observing the most popular feline socialite of our college. When in between there were rumours of her being pregnant, the entire college had been in a tizzy. The college newspaper even did a story on possible kitten names!
I take another spoonful of soup, savouring the warm, spicy taste.
A classmate walks by, holding a beach towel. I can’t stop myself from asking: “What are you doing with a beach towel?” The guy pauses, and looks confused for a minute, “I am not really sure. I had an epiphany that you needed it”.
“Why would I need a beach towel?” I ask mystified.
“You don’t need it. You need to see it” he explains patiently, before walking away.
I continue drinking my soup, and wonder idly why the tables were painted red…?