Skip to main content

Remember a day

X stood at the kerb, staring after the car that was pulling away. Slightly tipsy, slightly dazed, he blinked slowly, holding on to the fast-evaporating feeling of warmth as fiercely as he'd held on to her. 

"You okay?" asked a tenor voice behind him. Turning around, he saw the old man, silver hair askew in the wind, smiling. "Are you alright?" the man asked again. X wasn't sure, so he considered his reply. He'd joined a group of friends for dinner and they'd been drinking into the early hours of Christmas Eve. X thought he'd seen the old man in the restaurant, seated a few tables away, but wasn't sure. He'd been largely distracted and tongue-tied that evening. Every once in a while, he'd dare a glance at her; when she smiled or laughed, his breath would catch and he'd look away and take another sip. There were a lot of sips, that much he knew.

The old man was still there, waiting for an answer. "I guess" is all X could say. It wasn't much of an answer and he could see the man wasn't buying it. "Frustrating, isn't it?" the man asked, with a mischievous gleam in his eye. That expression gave X the shivers. There was something very odd about it, but in his drunken state he couldn't put his finger on what that was. Besides, the guy was right. It was frustrating, he admitted to himself. 

"What do you mean?" X retorted aloud. It came out gruffly, even though he didn't mean it.

"Well, you kind of look like you have girl trouble" the old dude said, with a low chuckle, unconcerned about the seemingly rude tone. 

"Yea, I sort of do", X replied. And was about to continue when he was interrupted.

"Listen, it's simple. Tell yourself that you only die once. Keep repeating it in your head and you'll understand why things become, er, dead simple. Especially the next time you meet her. It'll make it easier for you to ask her out." 

"Wait. What? How did you know...". 

"I told you. It's on your face. Besides, you're not the first guy who ever got cold feet. You won't be the last. But, repeat what I say and the fear goes away once in a while."

X was about to respond when he saw the woman approaching. The old man turned around and smiled. She smiled back and X's breath caught at how it transformed her face. Again, the familiarity of it made him very uneasy. Or was it the whisky?

"Let him figure it out" she said, mock-frowning at the man. Leading him away, X heard her say "I meet you at the New Year's, right?" The old man was shaking his head and gesticulating. X heard the old man say "... an idiot" and called out to them, but they were out of earshot. Or, chose to ignore him. Either way, a passing auto stopped and X got in. 

As the vehicle moved away, he heard the old man's voice.

"Happy birthday, kiddo."

X looked out the auto wildly, now certain there was something dreadfully strange going on. The road was deserted. A shadow moved under an approaching street lamp. As the rickshaw went past it, X saw them both. She was smiling again and X heard the wind whip away her words. "It was a nice hug..."

Song for the moment: Does anybody know what time it is - Chicago 


Popular posts from this blog

Night Boat

I usually don't write honest pieces. They're true to facts but I tend to lather my emotions and thoughts with a heavy dose of attempted humour or misdirection. This post deserves some raw emotional honesty, though.

Yesterday, 29th August, a Tuesday (or should I say, another Tuesday) was about me making choices. It was raining quite heavily when I left for office, sheeted down the windows of the train throughout the 1-hour journey to Churchgate and kept going with renewed intensity by the time I made it to the entrance, looking verily like something that had drowned in a gutter and lain there a while before being discovered by a cat and dragged in. I made the choice to go to work as I suspected my boss would be there and not because I wanted to go.

I was right about my boss but that cardiac fizz of being right flattened out rather rapidly once I realised, around 11:30 am, that no one else from my team of 20 had bothered to make a similar effort. And, some of these guys live 5 …

Drink up and be somebody

Dear Reader,

History will boldly testify that your favourite blogger is usually slow on the uptake, a state of affairs that's blooming with each passing year like a reverse-Revital. "Why this self-harshness, G", you may ask? Well...

I've been doing the Bom-Pune-Bom trips for 9 years and it's taken about that long to accept that MSRTC Shivneri, still the best bus service of them all, simply cannot (or, realistically, will not) cope with 3-day weekends. Since my job profile does not allow me to plan my travel in advance on said Fridays, I land up at Dadar, view the queue of potential passengers snaking a long way from the ticket window and mentally prepare to arrive home at the hour of morning reserved for sheepish teenagers and dacoits. The Expressway doesn't help anyone's cause thanks to truck drivers spreading themselves generously across 3 lanes and clogging the Lonavala pass to a point where the traffic jam is about 3 km long. A stretch that would tak…

Country Comforts

Part 1

With timing that was far more impeccable than their usual service, the MSRTC went on strike 2 days before Diwali over a pay dispute. I've traveled on their buses for close to 9 years and know full well just how popular they can be just before a major holiday. The chaotic crowd at Dadar is so dense, one would only need to introduce a few Naga sadhus into the mix and hey presto! we've got ourselves a brand new Kumbh Mela. Albeit one where getting out of Bombay ASAP is the only kind of salvation devotees seek. 

News and newspapers being what they are at present, I was unaware of the jolly bus crisis until Wednesday morning when a well-wisher asked how I proposed to go home for the holidays, flourishing the paper in my face with the reluctant panache of a small-town magician. Realising the gravity of the situation, I looked up train schedules and was stunned to find General category seats available on an outstation train departing later that afternoon. As far as I could see, …