Madhu was aware of Rakesh as a man, now, because of his perseverant attention to her, camouflaged as superficial flirtation. It never occurred to her that attention might be the pretense, flirtation was genuinely just that. Flirting was after all arousing the attention of the opposite sex, with no intention of commitment .Flirting was self-love, projected on to the other. It often exposed the kernel of a man.
Madhu had seen the exchange of looks between a construction worker, and a mason, the ribald jokes with double meanings, female feigning sportive anger, knives and gloves as partners in the Operation Theatres, designer’s measuring tape caressing the waist of a dress, songs flirting with the rhythm, rhythm flirting with the dance, it was a mating game, a sort of foreplay of words, in a civilized society. Words created loneliness to Madhu; she used them as a shield from experience. As she searched for a word to express what she felt, she distanced herself from that feeling, like preserving the wings of a dead butterfly. All language was memory. Naming a feeling put it behind her, unlike naming a person pet name or nickname, branded him in her mind. But the word appeared in a newspaper, an advertisement pamphlet, or even a billboard innocuously, and caught her unaware restoring the original feeling with a pang.
She concluded long ago that she was incapable of that art of flirting, she took the other always too seriously and cared too little to pretend a lack of interest. All or none phenomenon.