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She said, “Thanks for giving me company for dinner, I’ll drop you at your place it’s on the way”.
I couldn’t say no. I probably didn’t want to. It was only supper time and throughout dinner with her I wasn’t my own self. There were innumerable thoughts running through my mind and there was complete chaos within but it felt serene. I was feeling good about everything around me or maybe it was just her presence that gave me a high. I didn’t know, nor did I want to think deeper about it. That day and especially that moment was something that I’ve never felt before.
We got into the cab and like every different experience that evening even the cab driver had a welcoming demeanor about him. A beautiful song from the 90s was playing in the background.
She was the first to break the silence and asked “How was your day?”
I replied, “As one of my ex-managers says, work isn’t good. It’s either better or worse. It’s always relative to your previous assignment.”
She responded with a sly smile, “You complain so much about your work. You better start loving it or change your job.”
With a sigh, I said, “Yaar jab tak paisa aa rahaa hai (as long as it pays), I’m ok. Waise bhi (Also), I’m not as ambitious as you.”
She instantly reacted, “Neither am I but at least I don’t crib about it.”
And we both laughed. The conversation moved on from discussing work to the usual mundane routine of our daily lives and as we got so lost in our chat (or rather in each other) a loud sound outside abrubtly jolted us to our senses. I realized that I was holding her hand, not sure since when…I was worried and thought, “Have I crossed the line?”. She read my thoughts and I could feel her shake her head for it. Her smile reassured me. We didn’t talk after that. There was a lot of traffic and the cab read our minds and just halted. We were looking at everything around us except each other but we continued to hold each other’s hands, even tighter now. Probably we were telling each other that we shouldn’t let go of each other. There was an uncanny silence despite the noise around us. Time had come to a standstill. We were relaxing and exchanged a million words in our hearts. It was surreal. The peak hour traffic was providing the perfect soundtrack to us whilst we were afloat in the air and drifting away from the hassles of our respective lives into the serene cosmos of tranquility. The happiness within was inexplicable. She grabbed my hand with her two hands and held it against her body. Her eyes told me how much she loves me and that she would never let go of me. I reciprocated with my silence.
The driver intervened, “Sir, we have arrived, Rs. 239 is your final bill”. I got down from the cab and gave him Rs 250. He took it and returned the change in the form of his ever radiant smile. I smiled back at him. I turned to bid her goodbye and thank her for the beautiful evening only to find an empty backseat. She wasn’t there. Probably it’s been eons that she hasn’t been there.
As I see the empty cab disappear into the never ending traffic, I start walking to my house smiling and humming the beautiful lines by Asad Bhopali (from the movie Parasmani) –
Magar rote rote hasee aa gayee hai …Khayaalon main aa ke woh jab bhi muskuraaye …
Woh jab yaad aaye…bahut yaad aaye …

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