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Le Monde de L'Écriture » Encore plus loin dans l'écriture ! » Textes non francophones » The meddlesome Mister Lila

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Hors ligne Michael Sherwood

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The meddlesome Mister Lila
« le: 11 février 2022 à 18:45:57 »
What is worse than having no friend? To have a friend who wants to make you happy at all costs!


After my evening classes – I give French lessons on weekdays at the Institute of Adult Education – I often spend the evening with Mr. Lila, one of my adult students. Mr. Lila, as his name does not show is an Indian, a little older than me, and single too. We take my car parked in front of the Institute to reach the city center. We then stroll through the small streets of the old Indian quarter. There is no real border to this district, it is the architecture, the temples, the names in the shop fronts and the cavernous emporiums that indicate that the district is inhabited by Indians, mostly Hindus.  We usually go to a tea-room, often the same one, to remake the world over together. Mr. Lila has some tricks of his own: he pours his tea from his cup to his saucer and drinks out of the saucer, which is not stupid, because the tea has time to cool before he drinks it. Another trick of his, when ordering Sprite or Gin tonic for example is to pour salt into his glass to increase the carbon dioxide bubbles! It's funny, but he repeats the trick over again and his repertoire is not infinite! On other evenings after a bite in a small neighborhood restaurant we go to the Indian movie screening at the Empire Cinema.  I end up learning a lot of hindi expressions: namasté, hum tum, mera naam, mere saat hay, pyar divana, kiu, kia hu ha, kion, kuch ne, kuch kuch hota hay. Mr. Lila would be surprised if he knew all I can follow, even when he speaks in Hindi with his compatriots!  After the tea-room or the cinema, I drive him back home, to a small building in Kariakoo next to his bike repair shop, and I take the road in the other direction back to my small apartment in a building on Upanga Road, close to the ocean.

Since he invited me one evening to his house, in fact, I only saw one room of his house, because he did not want me to meet his mother with whom he lives, I cannot do otherwise but to invite him one evening to my place in return. Mr Lila is a very nice guy, but he always shows himself a little too curious, a little too intrusive. His incursions into my private life annoy me: he wants to know where I bought my car, for instance, how much it cost me, if I am an expatriate or on a local contract, if I have a lot of friends, if I am a married man and if my wife stayed in France. Failing that if I have a fiancée who is to come and join me. I answer negatively to all his questions. I confess to him that loneliness weighs on me, that I feel the absence of female companionship, but that my chances of meeting the soul mate here are slim: all the girls or women who arrive from France are already married or engaged to others!

As if waiting for just that signal, Mr Lila immediately takes up the subject and assigns himself a mission, to find a wife for me! A strange idea for someone who himself is not married, who still lives with his mother. But it quickly turns out to be for him an obsession, a fixed idea, he pushes me, he wants to put it into practice right away.

— And love, Mr Lila?
— Love?
— Love at first sight. Reciprocal feelings, the mutual attraction of hearts!

Love does not seem to be part of Mr Lila's register. He brushes the idea aside. Romantic love for him is Abhimaan, Deewar, Kabhi Kabhie1, it belongs to the Indian movies screening at Empire Cinema. For my part, yielding to the spur of the moment, without too much thinking, I tell myself why not, this is perhaps the solution to my loneliness?
He quickly assesses the situation:

— You're a Christian, you need a Christian wife, so we'll find a girl from Goa for you.

He himself is a Hindu, but all the Indian families in Dar know one another! It is not a matter of just picking any girl, she must be a girl from a good family, with an unblemished reputation.  A virgin. Mr Lila plays the matchmaker!  It also happens that by a happy coincidence two young girls, two sisters also follow my French course, from Goa!  Mr. Lila does not have far to look for, he will contact the family and arrange a meeting with them.  All this is very intimidating, to imagine myself facing my future in-laws, before dating and declaring my love to one of their daughters!  The girl herself is certainly a hundred leagues away from thinking that...  unless Mr. Lila has already...  or unless the family contacted him to...  All this does not seem to be a problem for Mr. Lila.  Apparently all marriages are conducted this way in his community.  If I had to do it over again, I would have preferred not to cultivate Mr. Lila's cumbersome camaraderie!

They are two sisters, so which one to choose? On this matter my choice is quickly made: there is a small thin almost faded girl of 20 and a slim bright pretty girl of 18.  One is called Violet, the other Yasmine, a cute little flower bud. This can't be invented.  Necessarily if I choose Yasmine, because I have no other choice but to choose Yasmine, the eldest Violet will feel frustrated...  But that's life: it's not about spreading your genes anywhere to please someone! You must also think about your progeny!  The most preposterous thing is that I don't even consider that this girl (Yasmine, since it's her) could refuse to marry me.  This hypothesis did not cross Mr. Lila’s mind either, but no doubt he is used to this kind of situation: they test the ground, they discreetly contact the two parties, they discuss a while about the conditions, the compatibilities, they investigate the fortune of the future bridegroom and if everything matches, they put the two lovebirds in the presence of each other: thousands of happy marriages (and thousands of other less happy ones) were contracted that way!

I seem to have recently detected small discreet signs of intelligence from Mr. Lila in the direction of the two young girls sitting opposite him in my classes. Oh, nothing noticeable really, I'm probably just making things up in the state of nervousness I'm in.  So here I stand in a very awkward position.  I dread, I already anticipate the scene: I already see myself stammering incoherent words in the presence of my haughty mother-in-law-to-be sitting upright on the shaggy cushions of her sofa, then blushing scarlet while stammering other incoherent words on my knees in front of her daughter sitting on her couch, under the weeping eyes of the other girl sheltering on a chair in a corner.  I must absolutely make up something to extricate myself out of this trap. I could simulate illness to retract, a mental illness for instance, but what about my credibility as a teacher? Ah, with his untimely desire to make me happy at all costs, Mr. Lila has thrown me into a mess.  I can't see how I'm going to cope with this unhappy situation!

Yet, fate was to come to my help to rescue me out of this mess in a most unexpected way. When the biological clock rings the hour at your door, when hormones rage throughout your body, when pheromones fly high through the air... well, I met one morning another young girl who had come to register for my classes, she was lovely as a heart, although she had not been introduced to me by Mr. Lila.  I fell immediately in love with her, and she with me!  Her name was neither Violet nor Yasmine, but simply Warda!  I could thus ease my way out through the big door and say goodbye without dishonoring myself to all the shenanigans of Mr. Lila, to all his promises of violets and jasmines in bloom: now the place was occupied for good, my heart was taken, a rose defended the entrance with its thorns!




1. Famous Indian films of the 70's




« Modifié: 11 mars 2022 à 12:34:10 par Michael Sherwood »
It's not because you're paranoid that they aren't after you.

 


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