Saturday, September 8, 2007

"A New Friend"

About two years before I was born, my father, newly married for few months, went to France on business. (He was an electrical engineer) He lived there for nearly two years. He visited my mother in India once, several months prior to the end of his two year stint.

Hence, he was not present when I was born; my mother went to her parents' house in New Delhi so they could help her with the baby, as it was the custom anyway. My father did not see me till I was about one or two months old. My mother stayed at her parents' for three or four months before going back home to Mumbai.

Shortly after he arrived in Paris, he stayed at a hostel with no kitchenette. To save money, he cooked in the bathroom, avoiding the fire alarm in the living room.

Learning French was a bit difficult because the classes he took was IN French too! (Imagine your sign language class teacher teaching you IN sign language?!) Over several months, my father managed to pick up enough to carry a basic conversation.

My father is very fair skinned with grey eyes and had black hair. Most people in France often mistook him as Spanish, as from Spain. They found a bit hard to believe that he was actually Indian. He was nice looking in those days, from looking at the old photographs.

Several weeks after he arrived, he went sightseeing in his spare time. One day, a very pretty French girl smiled at him. Naively, my father smiled back and suddenly she came to him and started talking.

My father struggled to understand her. She kept trying to tell him what she wanted. This went on for half-hour. Finally, she gave up and left.

That night, after dinner, my father lain in bed, feeling bad he couldn't understand the seemingly-nice girl, pondered over the event that transpired during the day.

Suddenly my father bolted upright. He finally understood what that pretty girl had been trying to say. And what she actually was.

She was a call girl; in other words, a prostitute.