It is terribly… warm, isn’t it? Which is totally the excuse I am making for my lack of posts. What? THE WARMTH! IT IS A WRITER KILLER! And I’m not one of the privileged, like you guys, who get to go to an air conditioned office every day, and spend great hours of my life, probably the best hours, sitting in artificial light and making conversation with people I probably wouldn’t even be nodding acquaintances with in real life, and okay, I’ll stop.
And then yesterday, I went and joined the public pool next door, which okay, is a very little thing in the scheme of things that happened yesterday, what with the Big Bad Wolf being brought down, and everyone only talking about that, but what? I don’t live in Abottabad, or however you spell that. And I’m glad the Americans got closure and everything, and I’m glad he’s dead, but it’s SO not the end of the story. When the end of the story happens, I promise I will talk of nothing but. But since yesterday was only, like, a chapter, I feel like I can tell you about the pool next door.
As I signed up, the girls at the desk looked at me and debated with each other whether girl one should get a nose ring (like I have) or a nose stud (like girl two had.) They glanced at my nose awhile, I told them it frequently got caught in towels and t-shirts and things and then, finally girl one decided to go for the stud. FASCINATING. Then they casually looked over my form and girl two gasped.
“You’re… twenty nine?”
“Yes,” I said, shortly. I’m beginning to get a bit sick of this. Yes, I’m aware looking young is fab and all that, but WHAT IS SO OLD ABOUT TWENTY BLOODY NINE? I’m still in my twenties, not quite over the hill, I wish people would stop saying, “Oh, you look so young” like I’m fifty five or something.
“And,” said girl two, still hushed, “Why aren’t you married?” (There was a father’s name/husband’s name section, which always throws me a little bit.)
Unexpected. Very unexpected. Here I was all ready to not-so-graciously accept my “oh you look so young” compliment. I babbled something about not liking men, and then babbled that I wasn’t a lesbian or anything (not that there’s anything wrong with lesbians! No! *nervous laughter* *girls look even more pitying*) but men in Delhi just seemed lacking. “Okay!” I said, still with the nervous laugh, “Changing rooms?”
“Through there,” pointed girl one. They watched me go. They shook their heads. I am DOOMED TO DIE ALONE. Even pool girls are judging me.
But the pool, the pool. It made up for it all. It was large and over chlorinated and probably chock-full of piss and worse, but it reminded me of my childhood, you know, when you’d be four or five kids to a car, and you’d go to one of your parent’s clubs, and you’d spend all day horsing around in the water, and your fingers would get all pruney, and you’d be the last ones in, till someone, a parent, an aunt, would drag you out, where you’d be wrapped in a warm, scratchy towel and you’d eat chicken sandwiches or cheese pakodas and talk about how tomorrow you’d do the high board just as well as your cousin. And summer. And sticking your head with chlorine dried hair out the window and singing in high voices, and tumbling into bed because you were so worn out and knowing tomorrow, it would be the same thing, by the same pool.
So, despite the uncles and the people learning to swim by thrashing about and the kids playing ball across the most crowded section, I smiled blissfully (between spitting out water) and swam leisurely from one end to another, slow butterfly strokes, feeling like a mermaid. Well, a mermaid who had to wear a cap, which made my head feel a bit like a condom, but a mermaid nonetheless. My friend joined a little later, and we hung around the middle section, where we could just feel the bottom on tip toe, and we gossiped. Not very sporty, but we were mermaids. We were doing mermaid things.
And, oh, the water was blue and made my skin itch, cute young Afghans flexed their triceps for PYTs also with condom heads and the changing room had warm showers and everything, everything was exactly as it was in 1989, minus the chicken sandwiches. Swummer. Summing.