my mushy streak continues ..... a trifle too long. Read along :)
It all seemed so simple when deepak explained it to me - "Be crazy, sensitive and Genuine; She's yours, no doubt". But what in this world qualifies to be crazy, sensitive and genuine. Jumping from the first floor (stupid!), crying in a movie (wimpy!), reading a poem (too 18th centuryish), writing one (impossible!), singing a song (no comments, next idea!), filling a whole room with roses (too costly), just a card (too cheap!), announcing in the radio (outrageous), writing it all in a letter (too meek) - Oh give me a break. I wouldn't know what he thinks - but travelling 32 hours in an unreserved compartment all the way from delhi to chennai is damned crazy, and as genuine as it can get!
Standing there in the platform 4 hours before the train started, I had no idea how I was ever going to tell her how much I love her. I had 32 hours then and I was sure I could think of something. As a contingency plan, I also carried a book of poems that I planned to cram if I couldn't come up with something original. 32 hours! But the little girl who periodically had to check whether my hair was real by pulling it every second minute, the old man who wanted me to hold a small copper vessel every 15 minutes so that he could spit his betel leaves into it (and all over my hands) and the fat, ugly woman who had noone but me to talk to about her husband who deserted her (understandably!) made sure I had every minute of those 32 hours just for myself. And here I am now sitting in a rickety auto behind a man who tells me he knows every corner of chennai and will take me there in the speed of light.
32 futile pages flipped in 12 minutes - Nothing. not a word that any sane man could tell a girl with a straight face. I can't imagine telling her that my love is "as strong as the wish to drink, she as sweet as the honey, and our lives as content as the satisfaction"! The truth is, there are a hundred reasons why she should outrightly reject me. For starters - We have known each other for just about 6 months. I still have no idea what she likes - the books she reads, the music she listens to, the food she loves and the issues that matter to her. All I know is she doesn't like a LOT of things I do. She doesn't speak my language, doesn't eat fish, finds fast bikes dangerous, and for some strange reason, finds poetry invigorating (Poetry for godsake! I am giving the honey thing a serious thought now!). I closed my eyes and thought of my starting lines - "What would you say, if I tell you I love you a lot?". I didn't realize I said that loudly.
"Enna sir, love-a?", chipped in the auto driver trying to strike a conversation. I wanted him to shut up but didn't know how to say it courteously in tamil, so managed to smile and catch my thought trains again. "I also love marriage sir!". That was interesting. He probably had some ideas that I could use. I wish I knew tamil so that I could strike a personal chord. Given there was no better choice, I stuck to speaking his english. "You too love marriage. Very good. Tell me, how you tell her. Writing letter, good-a".(now adding that "a" to the last word of a sentence, I guessed, was characteristically tamil). "No sir! letter too .. what you say ... bayandhagolithanam (cowardly) ... ok, boring sir. Straight action sir .. like superstar. always success". There he goes! Every T.D.Harry had a set of rules for what works in love life. Anyways, the action part sounded interesting. "What action-a? What you do?" (somehow the "a" didn't fit this time). "I take her to my new house. give her keys and ask to take care. she say yes". "You gave the keys and that's it? she agreed to marry you". He beamed! She said yes to that? God! I have never understood women. but this one is outrageous! Throw away this stupid book. Get me a lock and key. I somehow felt much more confident now. Realizing he was not of much help, I finally made up my mind - that one moment thing is not going to work. I take her to a movie, walk in the beach, crack a lot of self-deprecating jokes (one thing I am good at) and when the sound of wind fills the silence after her longest bouts of laughter, hold her hand and tell her I wanna see her smile like this for the rest of our lives - that sounded good. That was actually damn neat. Shakespeare and shah rukh khan rolled into one! I rock! But the auto driver wasn't about let me off so soon. "My wife, great sir! thanga radham sir ava (she's a golden chariot)". "what?". "Thanga radham ... how I say ...", he looked around desperately seeking inspiration, "Ah!! Golden auto sir! She my golden auto!". With those words, he left me outside a ladies hostel. Just as I got down to pay the bill, she walked out of the gates, gorgeous as ever, those long frills of hair framing her face fluttering in the wind and taking my breath with them. But suddenly, I realized something and froze. Suitcases! She was packing her bags and was leaving somewhere. Her immediate future flashed before my eyes - her father found her an american software engineer who writes short stories, she liked him instantly, agreed to marry him and here she is, leaving for her marriage and I shall for the rest of my life, drink and scream "I object!" like 21st century's devdas.
She looked at me and seemed pleasantly surprised (or shocked?). She dropped her bags there, smiled from one ear to another and walked towards the auto. I asked the driver to wait, gathered all my courage and smiled back.
"What a pleasant surprise? You here? what's up?"
"Actually, I came to meet you. Are you leaving somewhere", I wished it didn't sound as desperate as I actually felt.
"Yup. I am going to a medical camp in a place called kannur in kerala. 15 days - would you be here for long?"
The words "medical camp" have never sounded sweeter! But 15 days was long time. I had to say it and say it here and now.
"No. But I have something to tell you"
She looked at her watch and then at the luggage, looked at me apologetically and asked whether it could wait. It can't - I knew it. A sense of urgency gripped me and I let my guts take stake of my life. I looked at her, smiled nervously and started.
"I would have loved it to be a different place, a different time. But, no matter where and when, Here's what I have to say. I have been missing you like crazy ever since you left. I wouldn't lie to you that I know you too well or that I have thought of this a lot. But what I do know is I love you and I believe it will work. I am not a lot of things - but I definitely am genuine, crazy and sensitive... and you mean a lot to me. You are ...", I snapped my fingers and waited for that appropriate superlative to dawn. A second passed and then two. Something, anything! "You are my golden auto Anjali. And I would like to drive you ... I mean live with you for the rest of our life".
She was flabbergasted for a split instant. I closed my eyes and waited for the slap.
"I am your what?" She started laughing.
This was definitely much better than the tight slap. "My golden auto", I beamed like an idiot.
She broke into peals of laughter, holding her stomach while I stood there, blushing and for some strange reason, happy with myself. After sometime, she stopped laughing, tilted her head to one side, gave me that mischievous smile which split my soul into a million wistful pieces.
"So ... "
She continued smiling, stood on her toes, reached for my cheek and gave me a gentle kiss. "Do you want to come with me to kannur?"
For a second, my vision blurred. I thought I would faint but managed to hold myself. I wanted to answer her but my voice betrayed me. "Yeah sure" I said hoarsely. It just doesn't matter that you are practically sacked if you bunk office for 15 days, that you have just a single piece of spare clothing and that you have no idea what you will do in kannur - when a beautiful girl kisses you in the middle of the road when you least expect it. It was only a couple of seconds later did I realize that she didn't answer my question. Why do girls have to do this all the time. Can't they answer a question directly! I looked at her and then at at the auto driver who was telling her something in tamil.
"Vendamma. nama ooru payan mariyum therila. bayandhagoliya vera irukan .... " (No my girl. He doesn't seem to be from our place. Looks like a coward too ...).
I looked at him quizzically. He gave me that beaming smile again - "I tell her you love her too much sir!". I smiled at him stupidly, as she took my hand and walked towards the auto.