July 7, 2000
THE RAINBOW CHRONICLES
By Jeannine Diego
He took slow, deliberate sips, as one might do with an unsavory medicinal solution. The Foldgers in Sal's cup was lukewarm and bitter and he was sure that he could remember his first taste of coffee. He wondered if one's sense of taste ever truly developed an affection for certain flavors, or the sense of smell for certain essences. Perhaps one's senses were merely subject to the psychology of habit, occasionally waking from their regular state of acquiescense to appeal for reconsideration. On some mornings, Sal's senses were more rebellious than on most. At times, he felt that if he vacillated, actually gave some thought to whether or not he craved the taste, he could just as easily stop drinking coffee. But, then again, why stop? The repetition and routine of making and drinking it every morning were comforting, even necessary. Anyway, he didn't drink more than two small cups in the beginning of each day. In the afternoons he drank tea. Jasmine, with half a teaspoon of sugar.
Horizontal tiers of paper slivers stared back at Sal, like hundreds of cartilaginous fingers, beckoning him to extricate another postcard from the shoebox on the kitchen floor. He wouldn't dear tear open an envelope, of course. That would be too intrusive. The postcards stuck out further and were more easily accessible. And, anyhow, who writes anything terribly intimate on the back of a postcard? Plus, he'd already finished looking through the Union Tribune, glancing over the obituary section and a couple ineffectual local stories. He'd done so a bit more hurriedly than usual, perhaps, but there was simply nothing of particular interest in the day's paper. Almost mechanical in his movements, Sal leaned over to pick a postcard out from the edge of Sarita Bengali's box. He placed it on the table next to the one he'd read a few days before, both with the written side face down. The images were strikingly dissimilar. He recognized the unread postcard. It was the last one he'd received with the beautiful, floating, castle-like structure. It started to make some sense, now that he'd deciphered the signature. Mohandes. Probably an Indian name. Like Sarita's. The postcard he'd already read displayed a seaport lined with cruise-ships of varying sizes and it was stamped with horrible pastel-pink cursive lettering: "Nassau." He flipped it over to look at the date on the postage: FEB 18 1994. He inhaled deeply and flipped the new postcard over. MAY 13 2000. Sal exhaled and read.
I am in New Delhi. I am not sure for how much time I will be here. Do you remember the man that makes the movies that I told you about? I will see him tomorrow. It is all very strange the way it has happened. But I am very happy about it. I must go back to New York in one week because nothing is for sure yet and I must continue working there. It is very strange how it has changed here. Also it has not changed in other ways. Are you coming to India sometime? Do you remember when we came together to New Delhi? It was many many years ago. I have not yet gone to Jaipur and I do not know if I will be able to go. Maybe I can pay for you to come to Delhi if the man makes the movie and then we can go together. I will see about the business of the movie. I am just happy to be here anyway.
A Movie? Sal tried to imagine Mohandes. He pictured him to be young, maybe in his forties. He struck Sal as being very energetic. Tall... no, small probably. With a mustache and dark, spongy hair swept over to one side. He vaguely remembered the images on all of the many postcards he'd received... or rather, that Sarita had received from Mohandes. They'd stopped arriving for some years, and then a couple more had come over the last couple of months. Though he couldn't recall with exactitude, he was almost sure that they all seemed to come from different countries and cities. Maybe Mohandes was a filmmaker. Sal tried to imagine the mysterious Sarita. He supposed she was old. Then again, maybe not. Where was Sarita? It puzzled Sal that Mohandes continued to write to Sarita for so many years, surely without receiving a response.
.to be continued .
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The Rainbow Chronicles is a sponsored project of inSITE2000, a non-profit arts organization operating in both San Diego and Tijuana. The Chronicles will be published in La Prensa San Diego for 19 weeks. For information on the project visit www.insite2000.org.)