They walked into the restaurant as the lazy afternoon trudged by. All the tables were empty, with no signs of life except for a silent TV screen tuned to a sports channel. The tables were expectantly laid out, waiting for a nameless family to walk in later in the day.. or perhaps a lonely soul searching for a solitary meal. They chose a table in the corner, shielded from view by an ornate vase filled with plastic flowers. Slats of sunlight streamed into the restaurant, illuminating dust particles tracing random paths through the air, the curtains iridescent a glowing red. In a silent and shaded room, they spoke in smiling whispers.
They placed their order quickly, with barely a glance at the menu. The old waiter smiled at their haste, watching them quickly go through the motions that made their presence at the restaurant acceptable. The food was laid out… and ignored…Cell phones silenced ..their screens flashing with exasperated urgency. They were glad that the lunch hour rush had eluded this place, and glad that they could sneak away in the middle of an unforgiving day. Their families did not know that they were here. Not the parents, or the friends, or the pseudo family at their work place. It happened at the spur of the moment. He called her at work in the morning, and asked her out for a lunch. She had meetings at work, and had to buy some grocery for dinner. She thought, “Come on, its just lunch”. She said yes. They arrived at the restaurant separately, and met like the days in the past. She was looking lovely, and he was reminded of long evening walks when they were students in college. When all a date meant was a cup of tea or a glass of sugarcane juice. For her, it was nice to get away from a life lived everyday, with no in-laws or friends or the attached hassles of being married.
The hour went by quickly. He paid the bill and told her that it had been a great lunch. And perhaps, they should do it again. She smiled, a bit amused at his enthusiasm. And said, yes, we should do it again. And as they walked out of the restaurant, he held her hand. A bit conscious of the knowing glances and smiles of the restaurant staff, and wondering why it took them four years of being married to go on a lunch date again.