“It is your day,” Kat told each of the children on the day before the screening. “We will display the pictures you have taken and then there will be the screening of our movie. You are my little stars.”
They were amazing on that day. All of them turned up in the morning to help us with the arrangements. The guests listened to their anecdotes with enthusiasm. They were the stars and they celebrated the transformation with the joy of newly hatched butterflies.
After the program, we asked the children to hand over the photographs. Kat needed them for her exhibition in Brussels. They came, one by one, with envelopes containing their precious shots – shots that made them feel like emperors of their surrounding for split seconds. Mittu refused to move away from the collection desk. I buried my head in the register book till I heard Kat talking. She had Mittu sitting on her lap with his head down, as if he cannot sense her caressing hands.
“I promise I will send all your photographs back within two months. Please explain it to him,” she pleaded to Chetan.
“You will come back to teach us?” Chetan asked with a tinge of hope.
“I will. But I cannot tell you the exact date now.”
He didn’t reply. Instead he gently took Mittu who hung on to his shoulders like a rag doll. They went out of the room without any words.
“I think I am ready for home,” Kat said, wiping her weary face.
“They would have been better off not being a part of your grant dream. Unlike you, they don’t have a luxury abode to hide away from the miseries,” I said coldly.
“What do you mean?” Kat stared at me in disbelief.
“What I have said.”
We stopped talking after that.
I got a text from her this morning saying she wanted to meet me for dinner before her journey back home. That is why we agreed to come to the potter’s village, our usual meeting point.
“How is your sleep?” Kat asked.
Both of us know it is a lie – insomnia was one of the many traits we had in common. To be precise, I didn’t have a problem in falling asleep but fear created demonic silhouettes when I woke up from unknown dreams. For Kat, going to bed was the real challenge.
“It is a kind of anxiety, an inability to trust night with sleep, which makes me wander around,” she often said.
Some nights Kat had driven to my place in search of a companion for sleeplessness. We spend most of our time sharing anecdotes and making fun of each other which rescued me from unpleasant dreams. At times we went to kinky nightclubs exploding with loud music. Kat didn’t enjoy those trips much,
“Looks a bit like a sausage party.”
“Don’t like any of your admirers?”
“I might’ve hooked up with one of those butch fellows if the atmosphere is less aggressive. Let us get out of here.”
When we approached the exit, some of the guys screamed.
“Is that a good price for an imported prostitute?”
“I’m not an expert. But if you’re keen, I’ll try to negotiate a better deal.”
“Thanks for offering to help me. It is true that I need money especially when half of our project is in mid air due to the lack of finance. However, I’m not sure about this fund raising method. Film maker with a flair for slutty deals?”
“Don’t be a cynic, Kat. It’ll make you a film maker with revolutionary views on sexuality.”
“The job is the same irrespective of the way you call it.”
“It is a pity that you are not committed to your art.”
“You know I am pretentious.”
We left the place quickly to avoid the men who came closer encouraged by the sound of our laughter.