"Come on man," said Iqbal, his eyes squinting behind the viewfinder of the video camera as he focussed on my face. "Say something."
We are at his house. It is 1am in the morning. I had just finished interviewing his maid for a class presentation tomorrow (typical. The presentation is tomorrow and I do the interview the night before). My shirt is untucked, my hair dishelved, my eyes red and heavy at the end of a long day.
"Something," I smiled.
He looked up from the camera, looking straight at me, as if he's about to smack me for pulling another lame one. I returned the favour, before we both broke into a smile and laughed. It's a routine that never fails. "Come on man, seriously," he said, as he eyed the finder once again. "Say something."
"What do you want me to say?" I moaned, not exactly enjoying being in front of the camera. Somehow I've always enjoyed being behind it; I get incredibly self-concious of myself on camera ("There's so much oil on my face I'm beaming like a freakin' lighthouse!").
The red light came on. "Anything."
"I can't think of anything right now."
He stopped recording. "OK." He pondered that for a couple of seconds. "Imagine that you're saying it to your girlfriend. What would you tell her right now?"
"I don't have a girlfriend."
"You know....OK, just pretend that you have one or something." Pause. "Alright, I'll give you...2 minutes to think of something. I'll even..." motions towards Najyah, his girlfriend, "I'll even turn off the lights. Maybe you can think better like that."
He is persistent. "Alright, I'll do it," I relented, willing to indulge him for a bit.
"OK!" he beamed. He motioned to Najyah again, who flicked off the lights. "I'll turn it back on right before we start recording."
I sat there, engulfed in my thoughts as darkness descends. Though the light is turned off, some of it filtered from the kitchen, now the sole source lighting my eyes. I thought hard. What would I say.
Before I knew it, time was up. "OK," said Iqbal as the lights came back on. That wasn't two minutes. "I'll signal to you the countdown, before I start recording, alright?"
I nodded my understanding.
"Alright," he peeked through the viewfinder once again, before raising his hand and stretched out three fingers on his right hand. "Three," one of the fingers folded. "Two," and so did another. The last one was silent.
The red light came on.