home with nothing to do.’ Nila was chewing her nails as she crossed her legs and said, ‘Tomorrow you’ll have to give me some money.’
‘I want to buy some books.’
‘Today, when I walked along the Seine I found an English bookstore. Actually there are quite a few in this city. A few books would help me pass my time.’
Kishan got up and took his tie off, ‘Nila, I have to be very careful with my money.’
‘Why don’t I take up a job, instead of sitting around like this . . .’ Nila looked at Kishan expectantly.
‘You are really very impatient, Nila. You are very greedy. How long is it since you have come here? Two or three months and you are already restless.’
‘I have never been so dependent before. In Calcutta even when I was a student I also gave tuitions. I earned my own pocket money.’
‘I have never said I won’t give your pocket, picket, rocket or any other money.’
Nila laughed, ‘So give me—I haven’t asked for picket or rocket.’
‘I don’t understand why you even need this pocket money. This house has everything you need and I have bought you the rest.’ Kishan walked towards the bar.
‘I need to have ice cream and there isn’t any in the house.’
‘Fine, I’ll bring ten packets tomorrow and you can stuff yourself.’
Nila stopped chewing her nails, laughed loudly and said, ‘I need to eat fish and meat.’
‘Who says you need it? People live without it—don’t I?’ Kishan slammed the bottle of Scotch on the table.
‘Yes, you’re alive, but I don’t just want to live. I need more.’
‘What do you need?’
Nila looked him in the eye, spoke softly and calmly, ‘You’re talking of bread, but that isn’t all. One needs the lily as well.’
‘Fine, I’ll buy you a hundred lilies tomorrow.’
‘You will, Kishan, you want to buy me things. But I also want to buy myself something sometimes.’
Nila got a job, packing computers in boxes: fifteen hundred francs a week. It was a lot to her. In the morning, Nila woke up with Kishan and followed him out of the house. He went by car and she took themetro: the number two line from Gare du Nord up to Belle Ville and bus number eleven from Belle Ville to Metro Telegraph. The factory was right on Rue Pelleport. At first Nila didn’t tell Kishan about her job; she didn’t want him to raise hell in the house.
Kishan was from Chandigarh and Kurukshetra was in his blood. He had told Nila many times that he’d take her to Chandigarh for Janmashtami to see how grandly the Lord’s birth was celebrated there. He wanted to show her Holi as well and if Nila wanted colours on herself, he could dip her in colours that’ll take a lifetime to wash off. If Nila was amazed at the architecture in Paris, she’d be equally stunned by Chandigarh. It was built by the French architect, Le Corbusiere. He was no less that Monsieur Housmann! If Nila was excited by Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin de Planot, she’d be thrilled by Pinjore Garden, Sukhna Lake and Shantikunj in Chandigarh. But Kishan’s varied descriptions never elicited the slightest interest from Nila. The few of Kishan’s relatives who had come to Calcutta for their marriage had not seemed like the kind of people whose company she’d appreciate for one moment in Chandigarh.
The news travelled and Kishan found out that Nila had started working in a box-packing factory. He called Sunil to their house the very day he found out about it.
Sunil came in, walked from room to room, sat in front of Kishan and said, ‘Tell me, what’s the matter—why the urgent summons?’
Nila was lying down, reading a book on how to teach herself French. A cassette was playing French pronunciations. When she saw Sunil, she kept the book away, switched off the cassette and came forward with a smile. ‘Well, has our friend dropped in at last?’
Sunil’s face was solemn. He was still unsure about the summons from Kishan.
‘What is this girl you
Kelly Favor, Locklyn Marx