Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Winged With Love...

Trichy airport, as usual busy with silent flyers and buzzing keep alongs. I was one among the silent fliers. Silent, very silent. I am flying to Singapore now. I have taken up a job there and am to report tomorrow. My flight is at 14:30 hours. I fly to Colombo, nightstop there for eight hours and fly again to Singapore. I get a hotel room to stay at Colombo. It's gonna be a long journey. Good that I brought a book along. So, here I am. Me and the book.

Let me take a coffee. The coffee vending machine is in a corner of the waiting hall. I walk down there. There is a phone booth nearby. And there stands…

"...Hari, you've got to move ahead... you have to sow some time to reap, better sow now and forget about her... yeah, I liked her, I don't like her anymore.... why?? You wanna know why? Because you're everything for me and anybody exploits your goodness, they mess with me -- I'd be on the plane soon... keep your head still when I am not here. As soon as I get my
phone in, you're my first call, that's a promise... where are you going now?... good, hit the books, get that degree, one day we'll laugh at this thing together... you bet, I do... mmm.. Later."


Quite an emotional geek I think. I turn around and take a look at the caller.

Am I thunder struck????

Waw man, this is one perfect Srirangam beauty. Perfect "What I want?" specifications. With a mild sunlight color, long nose, big dark eyes and a perfect face which would suit a Lord Krishna imitation well. This is one of the things I like about Trichy. The girls from Srirangam.

She looks great. Well, what else you can say about a young cute faced girl who is on a go at the phone. That she is beautiful, talks sense. Seems to be on par with her English. Dresses good. Has a great shape. That's it I guess.

Hmm… "She has a Mr. Everything, brother" I tell myself, take a deep breath and get back to my seat with the coffee.

The Public addressing system calls for us to board. I pack my bag and board the flight.

"Ay Bhuvan, May I know your seat number, Sir"

"19a"

"This way Sir" a Sinhalese accent.

"Thank you"

I move ahead in the aisle. 23, 22, 21, 20 and 19.

Wow… I pinch my self once. Then again. Yes, it does prick. I am not dreaming. A flabby smile creeps into my face; I concentrate very hard on not letting that mischievous smile be too visible. It was very hard.

The girl on the phone is sitting in 19a.

"Excuse me"

Where did I get that accent from?

"Mmm"

"You are sitting in the seat allotted for me"

"Ah, sorry, my seat number is 19b"

"That's the other one, the window seat is 19a, its mine" I say.

"Oh, sorry"

She gets up and leaves way for me to get seated.

I unpack my bag, open my book. It's a different book now. I am not going to read a Tamil book now. I take out "The Atlas Shrugged" and start reading from a random page.

In the fall of my first year in college I started reading 'Ayn rand'. Since then some book of her has always been with me wherever I go. How helpful it is at times. You bet it was hard keeping my eyes on the book. And believe me, only my eyes were on the book. The flight takes off. I yawn once and close the book. I turn my head to the left, and then to the right in the pretense of relaxing my neck. I look at her eyes again. The girl is browsing through the onboard flight magazine. She closes it and keeps it on the pocket attached to the front seat

"Can I have that magazine?"

'Don't you have one in your seat?' she snaps. Ow, my my. This is interesting.

"I wouldn't be asking you if there was one here, would I?"

"I wasn't intending about the magazine. I was talking about your intention to make up a conversation" she says. She could have rather slapped me.

God, an I am - superior type! The kind who presume that all Young men in this world are behind girls. The sort of girl who thinks that in a country where chauvinistic attitude is at its helm, the girls must be five times as smart as men. I get irritated.

'Listen, leaving aside your narcissistic tone which I care least about, I need that damned magazine' I say.

'Wouldya please watch your tongue Mister?' she says handing over the magazine to me.

God which side did I wake up today. Why does this need to have happened this way. I think to my self. If she had some goddamned problem with some 'everything' of her, why does she have to eat my head? The thought of her 'everything' makes me go silent.

I think about the situation for a minute. Here I am sitting next to a cute girl. She is in some problem and is not in the mood for my what she thinks idiotic interruptions. But she is cute; I am not giving up that easily. Lemme go about it cool.

"You on transit?" I ask bringing the situation to the negotiation level. The ball's in her court now.

"Yep". She answers.

That's a green signal. I see a white flag on the mast. So I tread ahead cautiously.

"I am on transit too. I am making a night stop at Colombo. The airlines is arranging for a stay at Colombo till the time of my connectivity flight"

"Oh"

We go silent. We get our lunch served. The Girl closes the magazine she was browsing, turns around and sets down to an overflowing plate of rice and some vegetable dish, potatoes and toast, the Air Hostess fills her cup with some juice.

"Veg or non veg for you Sir" She asks me.

"Veg please ".

Veg!!!! What am I saying?? I have started eating nonveg like a pig after my brief stint at Muscat.

"Any beer"

"Nope, thanks"

By this time the Girl ties into the Lunch, eating it with such relish that I couldn't take my eyes off her. She senses my eyes, glances over, her cheeks filled with a mouthful of food, and swallows embarrassedly. I catch her glance and smile a bit. She gets the situation, and laughs with all the food still in her cheeks. Thank God, she gets easy at last.

"I am kinda hungry. It was a very tuff morning today, missed breakfast and adding to it, had to report early for boarding, you had your lunch"

An outspoken emotional high headed geek, to be correct, I tell myself.

"No I didn't, it must've been a very hard morning" I add.

She smiles; probably she thinks that I am commenting about the way she is going at the food.

"I heard you on the phone"

"Mmm" She sounds confused.

"Back at the waiting hall, it was fascinating"

She seems to be thinking about it for a minute. It was a hard minute to pass. I am never good at making up a conversation. What I can do is all direct talk. And pretty serious ones. I have to know people very well to take off with a conversation. And here I am trying to make up one with a total stranger. I have shot an arrow. Now I am sitting with fingers crossed for a response.

"Oh yeah? What was 'fascinating' about it?

"You and 'your everything'"

That was the limit. What am I saying? 'Her and her everything'. Good, holy god. I couldn't keep the itch of knowing about 'her everything' guy. But you might well understand, the girl was real beautiful with big eyes and all. But where did I get the gut from. Today is some day for me I think. But she answers immediately without a beat…

"Ya, my kid brother, He just broke up with some lousy friend and he's very upset. The younger generation seems to be getting things very early now a days, it's kinda another world for me"

"I am sorry"

"Nothing to be sorry about. That's the way with people nowadays, right?"

"What?"

"Nothing is forever"

"I agree"

I would agree for anything she is going to say today. I am getting cracked up.

"Why?"

Caught, she is asking "why"

"I thought I'd just be agreeable, you seem to be too emotionally involved with the thing. Now I've got to explain why?"

"I'm not trying to sharp shoot you, but that 'nothing lasts' stuff, that's what, was the trouble with Hari's girl. She wasn't sincere enough and Hari felt it. They all do it for the peer pressure and age factor. It somehow doesn't last. But anyway how did you know I was emotional over it"

"Here you are explaining the things, arguing and explaining to a total stranger. Would it be difficult to judge that you are emotionally charged over the issue?" I ask.

We sit in silence for some time. Did I make a mistake by using the stranger phrase? I made her remember that I am a stranger I think. Curse my tongue.

"Listen, I am sorry for that heated talks in the start. It was my mistake. I was too messed up with my own problems" she says.

"Oh, that's alright. You are beautiful enough to justify that reaction" I say at my charming best. Oh god, I must be mad to say all this. This is real too much for me.

"Don't get too smart, techie" she says.

"Why do you call me a techie?"

"You are an IT pro aren't you" she asks.

Hmmm... That's interesting. "How did you know that?"

"You look stupid and behave rich" she says.

"I am real smart but behaved real poor today I think"

"Oh no, I am real smart but I behaved real poor today, you didn't"

"I see that you are smart"

Another silence.

"So you're not that sort of a girl?" I ask after ten minutes.

"What?"

"You're not that sort of a girl, the one who aren't sincere, not influenced by age and peers?"

"Damn right"

I keep silent. What am I trying to prove? Where am I taking this conversation to? Anyway it's more of my sort of a conversation. It's been serious and sense till this minute. No honky ponky stuff.

Another minute.

"How about you?" she asks

"Me, I am a one girl guy."

"So is there that 'one girl'"

I go silent again. Probably she just wants to pass time, I may start stories about my own crushes and romances to her. I don't feel like doing it that way. I keep silent.

"I crossed limit, I think" She says

I giggle, trying to get the situation back to where it was.

"No you didn't, I am single, and am waiting for my girl."

We go silent again. Interesting enough we haven't known each others names till this moment.

"So what's your name" I ask.

"Vidhya"

I keep silent. Let her ask the obvious question.

"And yours"

I tell my name. I feel like saying "Bond, James Bond" instead. I had seen HUM TUM recently; I was pretty impressed with that sequence. And somehow things were very similar now, I got reminded of that.

A moment passes.

"Is your girl there at all?"

I smile. Now I am in the groove. She is just as interested to keep the conversation going, as I am. And more still, we are already talking deeper stuff. We seem to have jumped over some barriers right away. This doesn't happen with me, normally. A very rare meet indeed.

"I am waiting. Otherwise, who knows? You might be her." I giggle saying that, trying to sound it as a casual joke.

She laughs.

"Well, don't laugh, I just arrived in town, got a new job -- I'm flying now. Everything's been sudden and happening."

We go silent again. This is the problem with serious conversations. People tend to think in between conversations and get into their own private zones.

"You a doctor?" I ask.

"How'd you know?"

"I smelled you"

Oops there I go, grave one, but I realize that, only after uttering it. She is silent.

"Bad joke" I say.

"Very bad"

"what kind of doctor, the one that puts injections?" I continue.

"hmmm internal Medicine"

I smile. "So if I needed a doctor, you could be it"

"I coulda been her"

"Her?" I ask again.

"Yes, I coulda been. I had an office in the hospital here, KMC Trichy. But that isn't the situation now"

"-- This is my lucky day.

"I arrive in my own old city and I not only find a doctor, a beautiful woman as well. I'm sorry, you mind my saying that?" I add.

"Not at all, but you seem to be saying it too often" she says.

"When did I say that last?"

"Just twenty minutes back"

"How thoughtless of me, I wasted twenty long minutes" I say.

"Call it shameless" she says.

We laugh.

"How 'bout a cup of coffee in Colombo?" This was one real chance taken. Shooting an arrow blind I'd say now. We have been talking for a while now, I can break the barrier, and anyway I need to spend eight hours in
Colombo.

"I've got my connectivity flight immediately after landing in Colombo"

I look at her puzzled. My flight to Singapore is after eight hours. That's not immediate. I look at her inquisitively.

"In three hours after landing, to Oman"

Oman, O-M-A-N, Muscat. She is going to Muscat.
Oh. A moment passes.

I smile. She looks at me.

"What"

"Nothing for you, my own joke" I say. I had been in Muscat before this, Why didnt I meet her there?

I smile again "How 'bout half a coffee in Colombo, then?"

She laughs aloud now, "I have to board the flight to Muscat in 3 hours"

"And I want to get into my hotel room, take and nap and get back to the airport, board the plane and reach Singapore. Please, what do you say, a cup of coffee or half at least?

"If you won't call me beautiful again" She smiles.

"How about tea then" I tell her.

We giggle together while the captain calls for seat belt instructions. We are landing.

I gaze at the runway on the screen.

Airport Lobby, we are at the nightstop counter. I am on the queue waiting to collect my hotel and cab details.

"Do you guys always do this?"

"What"

"Flirt with any stranger you meet"

"Well no, not always. Only with beautiful young girls."

"Don't talk as though girls don't like this" I add after a beat.

"I don't like when some stranger comes out and talks to me"

"I see that"

She is silent, and smiles after a minute.

"And so do you" I add.




The Coffee Shop, Colombo evening.

The place has cleared out, the counterman busy bussing tables laden with flowers and vases; we are still at the counter, but about to leave.

"...It's a Technical consultant job."

"'Technical consultant'. What technical?"

"Networking"

"Mmm... My cousin's in that area. Going to do that all your life"

"I know what you're saying. Doesn't pay very well. But, I sorta like it. It sure pays better than the other Networking Guys, though. I am a consultant. It pays next only to Management and software guys. I want to grow myself up for the sorta life I wanna live. I wanna move ahead, into management soon. Anyway, lot depends on the woman I marry. Maybe she'd like a bigger house, a better car, lotsa kids, schooling kids isn't cheap anymore–"

"You'd give up what you want for the woman you marry?"

"I could, life's all that, a fine compromise between your professional and personal life."

She rises now, I with her, leaving money for our bills we head for the door.

"If I married, I'd want to give her what she wanted, I know its old fashioned and all that, but what's wrong with taking care of a woman? She takes care of you."

"You'll have a hard time finding a woman like that these days –"

I open the door, "You never know. Lightning could strike."

She's at the door now, pauses abruptly, her eyes on me.

We are outside the coffee shop. I hold the door for her as we step out onto the lobby.

She is staring at me, I am sorta embarrassed, and maybe I talked too much. I felt like I have hurt her someway, donno what. I smile, an open and let loose way.

"I've got to go –"

"Did I say something wrong?" I ask. "You look grave"

"No, it was so right it scares me."

We are near the cab now. She would get back to the airport lounge board her flight. Its time to part.

"I've been thinking..." I say

"What?"

"Thinking about asking you to be my girl…

A beat

"But I decided against it"

She holds my glance for a minute. We stand there in the lobby looking at it each other.

"I can't be anyway, but I still ask why?"

"Because you are a doctor, as a principle, I don't like doctors and..." I laugh.

"And?"

"And you are stupid and behave rich" I say.

A moment, then another. She holds my eye for an instant more than what was required. I stop laughing.

"We'll meet some day; I hope to meet your girl then. Let her better not be a doctor or I will shoot you on sight"

She gives me her card.

It reads. "Vidhya Chandrashekar, MBBS". I gaze at the card for a while.

"That's my husband. He is a doctor, Muscat" she says without my asking.

I laugh; I continue it for an extra moment.

"I've got to move." I say.



I walk towards the cab. At the cab, I turn around and see the place she was standing at. She isn't there. The cabbie honks, the cab moves ahead leaving the airport behind. It was drizzling. I lowered the windshields in the cab and sat gazing at the drops of rain dripping from the sill. The airport lobby was getting smaller by the moment. We were moving ahead.

"How long will you be here, Sir" asks the cabbie.

"I have to take a nap, get back to the airport, board the plane and move ahead".

I lie back on the seat comfortably watching the drops of rain from the window sill.
"and miles to go before i sleep" i say aloud.

The cab driver laughs as though he understands.. i gaze out through the window again...

Author's note - Ithu(kathai/katturai)kku pinnadi neraya story/screenplayvoda inspirations irukku. It is not outright sontha sarakku, just a muyarchi. Apram ithil varum sambavangal yaavum karpanaiyae.

2 comments:

Ramo said...

Damn Prasanna! For a moment I thought of finding this Vidya, sweeping all over Muscat just to see how she looks like...

However, in the middle, I got a doubt, how you became so courageous, but I thought may be true... May be I believed you more that this will not be a karpanai...

But it was very good..I enjoyed, laughed aloud, as i was in there...

Lemme guess your inspirations, Hum tum, Mr& Mrs Iyer..

prasanna said...

Not HUM TUM, I didnt even think about the movie till my second draft. (that was when i added that HUM TUM piece)

its an yes for Mr and Mrs Iyer, I was driven by the movie's ending and sorta wanted to finish my story in the same note.

But its not the only inspiration.