“Have never met a female clown before”, he said and put aside the newspaper.
The break-up of ‘Beatles’ music band had occupied the headlines of the newspaper.
She was a clown at a reputed circus company and he was into the business of paper mills. They were at a coffee shop.
“No one likes to go out with a girl who works as a clown. You are an exception”, she smiled.
“I see that you have got a dimple”, he pointed out.
She – “When you are a clown it doesn’t matter. The smile painted on your face gets the better of it”.
He – “So you don’t like being a clown?”.
“What do you think?”, she asked.
She was the only daughter of a reputed publisher in the town. Needless to say that she was rich.
“Hmm.. that mine was a wrong question”, he replied.
Their families had thought of their marriage alliance and she wanted to meet the groom in person, before giving her nod.
“Tell me something interesting about your job. How do you feel when your act doesn’t draw any response from your audience?”, he asked while keeping a curious face.
“That’s the thing about painted face”, she paused.
She took out a paper napkin and started scribbling something on it.
“If you see audience laughing their heart out you feel like peeling off the mask and revealing yourself. For, you want the person who is doing the act to get the accolades and not the ‘clown’. Because, no one’s going to remember the person who did the act. For them they are all the same”, she smiled.
“A clown”, she added and held out the picture of the female clown that she had just drawn.
“And what about the times when your humor doesn’t work?”, he said while taking the paper napkin from her hand.
She took a sip of the coffee.
“You feel good that the audience haven’t seen your face. For the audience, it’s the clown who has failed at the act and not the person behind it”, she laughed.
“That’s a nice picture. I shall keep it with me”, he said and buried the napkin in his coat pocket.
“That’s not the only thing about the painted face”, she continued from where she had stopped. “It helps me hide my anger when our boss yells at me. It helps me bury my boredom when I am in the middle of a boring talk”, she said.
“Are you hinting at our ongoing conversation?”, he asked.
“No”, she laughed. “I was just trying to endorse it – the painted face. How i wish everyone had the luxury of wearing painted faces even outside the act”.
He stayed silent.
“Like the other clown”, she exclaimed in excitement.
Excitement in her tone drew his attention and he grew wary.
“Like whom?”, he asked.
“There’s the other clown who works at our company. He is yet to perform on stage. He never removes his make up. Not even when the act is over”, her excitement was persistent.
“That’s interesting”, he responded.
“No. That’s not the only interesting part. Everyday before the show he comes up to me and hands out a rose to me, a red one”, she paused.
He dropped a sugar cube in his cup and started stirring it.
“And he has never spoken to me once. All that he does is giving me a rose and bringing his hand close to his chest”. He could notice her eyes gleaming while narrating the account.
“Probably he likes you”, he said.
She could sense an element of discomfort in his voice.
“Ah. Probably.! But he has never really confessed and it would be wrong on my part to draw any inference without really understanding his intentions”.
Both stayed quiet for a moment and silently took a sip of their coffees.
“So what do you do every time he hands out a rose to you?”, he asked.
“I just stay quiet and put up a confused smile”, she laughed.
“He must be looking terribly disappointed every time you do that”, he raised his concern.
“I don’t know”, she paused, looked at him and smiled.
“That’s the thing about the painted face”, she paused again. “It lets him bury his emotions under the makeup. And all that I see is his painted smile”.
“Oh.!”, he smiled – for the first time in the entire conversation.
She caught the dimple on his right cheek.
“I see that you have got a dimple”, she pointed out.
He stayed quiet for a moment and smiled broader.
“When you are a clown it doesn’t matter”, he kept his coffee cup on the table.
“The smile painted on your face gets the better of it”, he added.
——————————— THE END ———————————-
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