“Sharing chalega?”

If anyone has ever stepped foot in a busy food establishment in Bombay they are often asked, “Sharing chalega?” i.e. Are you okay with sharing a table with another customer? Most times sharing tables is nothing but two strangers eating meals in silence and sharing meek smiles in between chomps. So on Friday, when I stepped into a popular food establishment, I was only looking to fulfill all my greasy pav bhaji thulping desires. I was asked, “Sharing chalega?” I nodded, familiar with this request.

I was seated across two ladies, one much older than the other. They were speaking about friends, acquaintances and families. I had clearly interrupted a catch-up session. Mid-way through their conversation, they smiled and asked me what I was doing here. I would occasionally eavesdrop on their conversation and they would occasionally let me in on to their lives.

The older looking lady then told me about how her boyfriend was creating a fuss about something. I didn’t prod further, she went on to talk about him though. Her boyfriend was someone she ‘missed the bus’ with, years ago. After getting married to someone else, building a life and a family with that someone else and thereafter his death, she had managed to find her way back to her old boyfriend. She didn’t dwell too much on the heartbreak of not being able to be with him back then but it was fairly visible. But she seemed to be full of life and full of love. And there I was, 25 and then some, wondering if I could ever sustain any zest for life for that long. Whether I could sustain any love for life or any love for that long. But I know one thing for sure, sharing bilkul chalega.

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