"Why are you angry pooja?" I asked in a very low, squeaky voice. The voice was low and squeaky more because it had been about 15 mins since she had gotten into the car and we had hardly spoken. Suddenly, saying one complete sentence resulted in that low squeaky tone.
"I am not angry" she retorted, not taking her eyes off the road which was flooded with cars and bikes and people.
"Why aren't you even looking at me?"
"Just leave me alone for a while. I don’t feel like talking now"
As I drove on in the thick traffic and the treacherous rain, I glanced at her. Pooja. She looked divine. I could see the spark in her eyes as the blinding headlights from ahead flashed into my car. I could see that her hair was kinda wet as she was trying to wipe away the trickling drops of rain off her cheeks and her neck. The piercing on her nose made her look amazingly hot as opposed to seductively cheap which usually a nose ring does to a woman. The cutest part was her foot wear. It was one of those semi high healed slip-ons with a cute flower on each.
"Kuch khaogi?" I said in my broken Hindi.
"Your hindi sounds pathetic" she said
"I am sorry. Do you want to get something to eat?" I said, sheeply
"Its close to midnight. What do you mean get something to eat?" she replied angrily
"What are you pissed for?" I shouted. I was getting irritated with this kind of behavior. Never before had anyone spoken to me like this.
"Ill be alright. Give me some time... I feel like drinking coffee" she said after a pause
"At this hour? Don’t you want to go home?"
"We will go home if you want to go home. Can we have coffee there?"
There was another long space of silence inside the car. Just the stereo playing Clapton.
... she puts on her makeup,
and brushes her long long hair
and then she asks me,
do I look alright?
And I say darling,
you look Wonderful tonight...
The silence was too penetrating. The rain had died down and so had the traffic. It was just the cool wind that was gushing into the half rolled windows. I HAD to break the silence. I HAD to say something.
"I know a place where we get coffee at this hour" I said, again in that squeaky voice of mine
"I thought you wanted to go home" she said
".. and I thought you wanted a coffee"
"I would love it" she said with a hint of a smile, her first of that evening
"Its about a couple of hours drive but I am sure you will get coffee there"
"Are you sure? Don’t you want to get home?" she asked
"Its coffee you want, coffee you will get"
I turned around and directed the the car to head towards the coffee shop that was a few miles outside city limits wondering if there would be another innings of silence. It was quiet cold now and we could see the moon on the left corner of the wind shield. As I put the car on overdrive the silence was broken. This time it was the sweet voice of pooja
"Can I borrow a smoke?"
"Sure" I said trying to fish the pack from my jeans pocket
"You drive very fast" she said as she she took a drag , “I like it"
That did it. I don’t seem to remember how the next 2 something hours passed as we headed to the coffee place. It was one of the best conversations I have ever had. She asked me about me, my parents, my work, my friends everything. She wanted to know everything. It really didn’t matter to her that I was either saying half truth or lying entirely. She seemed genuinely interested in knowing about me. After our coffee, we took a small walk on the high way. She held on to my arm as the cool wind blew at us. We smoked a couple of cigarettes. She spoke about her. The caffeine seemed to have woken up a monster in her. She spoke of the moon. She told me a hundred stories of her childhood and how she and her sisters and her brothers used to irritate their mother and how her father would come home drunk and beat the boys and how she ran away from her home with just a bag containing a pair of clothes and a few rotis her mother had made for the trip and how she missed her family. I am not sure but I guess I caught her with a tear in her eye. When I enquired, she just warded it off by saying that it was getting too cold and we better head to the car.
The drive back was even better. There was silence this time too. But this time it was different. She held on to my hand as I drove back. In a while I could see that she was fast asleep, like a baby, her hands tightly clasping mine. She looked adorable. We had almost reached the outskirts of the city and the day seemed to be breaking as well. The moon was long gone. In a few minutes, the sun would be shining bright on this part of earth.
She woke up suddenly as the breaks screeched. I had just avoided banging into a paper boy. "That was close" I thought as my eyes were blood shot with lack of sleep. I put my head out of the window and showered a few abuses. She was in a state of shock. She didn’t find it strange that she was holding on to my hand. I didn’t find it odd too. She found it odd that she was still in the car with me
"Where are we?" she asked sleepily
"We are almost back pooja"
"Oh! My God! Its late. I better be heading back" she said looking at her mobile phone
"Ill drop you back. Where shall I drop you off?" I offered
"Are you sure?" she said slowly but consciously taking her hands away from mine
"Yup sure. Where do you want me to.."
"Near any auto would be fine thank you"
"Are you sure?" I said
"Yes. The first one you can find"
"Fine" I said partly with shock and partly with anger. I thought the evening had gone perfectly fine. Things were just perfect. We had had a great time together. We had talked. And talked. And talked. And talked more. And now, suddenly she wanted to get out of the car and away from me. To this day I don’t know why she did that. I have never met her since. I hardly remember her face now.
"There is an auto" I had said
"Thank you" she said without even looking at me
"Here!" I said pulling out 6 fresh 500 rupee notes out of my wallet, "This is for you. I have already paid your boss."
"I cant take this" she said, this time looking into my eyes. "I didn’t do anything"
"That’s alright. I had a wonderful time" I said smiling.
There was another few seconds of silence. This time it seemed the longest. Then she kissed me gently, got off and closed the door behind her
"I thought this was not in the deal" I shouted as she crossed the almost empty road towards an auto. "No kissing on the lips is the only rule I was supposed to follow. Thats what your boss said"
"Good bye" she said, smiling and waving at me