It was a typical morning. I was just saving my car from the numerous street hawks’ found riding the bike on the road. I was somehow managing to stay afloat on the road. The auto-rickshaws/tempos/buses were being driven on the roads as if Mayans had changed their deadline to a date closer to that day.
I was going to office. My Bollywood-90s collection was trying to cheer me up. It was a typical morning for me. I was totally oblivion to the fact that future had a unique experience for me in its store.
While I was about to take a turn, I saw a lady asking for lift – quite a normal phenomenon for the office goers. With public transport in the city being as good as Ra.One, we need to help each other out by way of carpooling or offering lift. And people do so here. It’s because the care.
So I stopped my car. She asked “Phase 2?”
“Nope, phase 1”
“Can you please drop me till Phase 1?”
“Sure.” I opened the door for her.
She asked me as soon as she sat “How much I need to pay you?”
“Nothing” I wondered why someone should be expected to pay for a lift.
“No. Please tell me how much should I pay you?”
“Well neither I am a cabbie not you are my passenger. You asked for a lift. I offered you a lift. Transaction closed, isn’t it?”
Call it my rude answer or why-should-strangers-talk-to-each-other phenomena, the only voice heard in the car for next few minutes was Udit Narayan’s – Aaye Ho Meri Zindagi Mein Tum Bahaar Banke, song.
She looked extremely sad. I even wondered if she was crying. After a few minutes of silence, I gathered the courage to ask “All well with you?”
“Yeah, all fine” she said.
By now the song had ended.
“So, how is life?” was a question which left me with teary eyes. No one asks me this question. Those who know me, they also know that my life is in a mess. Those who don’t know me simply don’t bother.
“Just surviving this ordeal called life” I said. My reply was followed by another prolonged silence.
“What are your hobbies?” out came the second stumper.
“Cricket. And yeah, I love to write” I wondered why would someone want to know my hobbies even before knowing my name.
“Oh you write. Nice. What all do you write?”
“Not much really - mostly cricket and humor. I have a blog”
“Good. You know, I recently read a book – My love story is the saddest.” She said. (The book name has been deliberately changed because I don’t want any other writer to get any publicity in my writing space. I am coming up with my own – “Greed and Fear”. Bless this poor soul to have a conviction, dedication and luck to complete it)
“Nope, I don’t read. I prefer writing. Anyways, how is it?”
And she went on and on about the book – how emotional it is, how heartless it is, how real it is, how unreal it is, how it made her laugh, how it made her cry. Not that I found the description interesting to start with but it soon crossed the boundaries of boredom.
I interrupted, “What is your name?”
“Tell me your real name and not pet name” I said.
“Bubbly is my real name” she said.
“Oh is it? You must be from UP, then?” normally people in my state carry such name. Remember Bunty aur Bubbly?
“Nope, I am from Pakistan” was her reply which almost forced me to pull all the brakes in my car. I was completely terrified by her answer.
“What???? Pakistan??? What the hell you are doing here then?” I was close to shouting.
“Don’t worry I am not a terrorist” she said with a smile.
“Oh yeah. And your name is also not Khan. What are you doing here?”
“Well, my parents are from Gujarat. But forefathers came from Pakistan”
“Thank god. But you did scare the hell out of me” her reply settled me down to some extent.
“Hehe. So where are you from?” she asked.
“I am from Germany”
“But you don’t look like a German” she wondered.
“Well my parents hail from UP. But I am told by them that I belong to the race called Aryans. I am also told by the historians that Aryans came from Germany. You can connect the dots I guess” my reply was more of a satire on the logic behind her comment about I-am-from-Pakistan.
This time the silence lasted for a smaller period of time.
“I think you must read that book” she said.
“What is there in that book that you are going all gaga about it?” how can a love-story book be good, leave aside being so good? I was wondering.
“Read and see it for yourself”
“Is it your story?” my question was expecting a reply in yes.
“Every fiction finds its genesis in reality, isn’t it? Hope you know what I mean”
“Okay Lady. Now please tell me what is there in this book or stop bragging about it” my patience was running out.
And she started. It was a typical love story – guy, girl, meeting, dating, mating, debating, separating and complete boredom emanating out of it.
More she talked, more pensive she became. Maybe she was dwelling into her past – why did he leave me, what would have happened if I had kept mum, what would have happened if I had shouted, why did I let him go.
More I heard, more scared I became. I was definitely thinking about the immediate future and past – why the hell did she ask me for lift, what would happen if she starts crying and people gather, what would happen if she actually turns out to be a ghost like Mallika Sherawat in Darna Mana Hai , why the hell did I offer her lift.
I have always believed in God. God does exist and I got the proof that day – just before she was about to break down and shell out tears, our destination came.
“The journey ends madam. It was pleasure serving you. Have a great day” I said and sped away.
That day I took a vow to never ever offer lift to a stranger especially if there is a gender mismatch.
So ladies and gentlemen, especially ladies, if you ever see an odd looking, bespectacled guy turning away from your direction even after he has seen your gesture for requesting a lift – that is me.
I will not oblige. Sincere apologies for being inhumanly rude but my psyche is marred by a scary incident in the past.
PS: Work of fiction. Resemblance to any living or dead is purely coincidental. Hope you know what I mean.