It was a pretty normal day. The October heat had begun showing its effects already. It was not even 9 in the morning and I could feel heat emanating from the ground. I walked down the stairs and on the footpath to go to the cafe five blocks away for my Sunday morning brunch.
Yes, every Sunday morning I have brunch here, so that I can sleep the entire day away in my lazy bachelors pad. I had just taken a seat when I saw her.
The first thing I noticed about her, were her dark brown expressive eyes. They changed their size as she animatedly spoke to her friends. They laughed as she narrated some funny incident, her fair hands swaying around, making different gestures. And then it happened. For just a moment, a fraction of a second, our eyes met. That fraction of moment seemed like an eternity to me. I was transfixed. Just as quickly, she had her eyes back to her friends sitting around her. But to me, everything was occurring in slow motion, just like they show in movies. I could see her in vivacious colours.
Everything around her was black and white, and blurred, just like in movies. I couldn't hear her. But I couldn't hear anything at all. A soothing music hummed deep somewhere in the back of my mind as I
continued to watch her. "What are you staring at mister?" I was jolted back to reality at the harsh voice. I suddenly came out of my trance. The beautiful girl was no longer laughing. She just sat there, giving me an angry stare. One of her friends stood in front of me, challenging me to answer her question.
All patrons in the restaurant stared at us.
"I... I am sorry;” I muttered an apology.
"You better be," She said and stormed away.
I looked back at her. She was still staring at me, angrily. I quickly looked away.
Embarrassed, immersed myself I in my club sandwich and Latte, and dashed home after quickly paying the bill.At home, I couldn't sleep a wink. The girl had destroyed my peace of mind. She had destroyed my entire Sunday. Other
Sunday's were fully dedicated to my precious sleep. But not this one. Not anymore. Finally, at 2 pm, I decided enough was enough. I had to find her. I got up and changed into my jeans and a tee. The heat had intensified now. But I was determined. I grabbed my cap and shades and went downstairs. I had no idea where to look for her. And there was no possibility that she would still be sitting there. But still, I walked to the restaurant.I peeped inside through the glass wall. The restaurant was now buzzing with activity. But she was nowhere. The skeptically. guard looked Even at me though we hadn't spoken to each other ever, we
knew each other, the same way you know the guy sitting in the shop in front of your house for the last ten years, or the guy who sits by the window in your bus - the bus you take daily to reach office. I approached him. To my great relief, he gave me a smile. It was that kind of smile, the one you give to a person you are not sure about. "What are you looking for Sir?" he asked, and at that moment I knew that he knew what I was looking for. I stayed silent, wondering how to put it. He rescued me from formulating any sentence. "That morning girl?" he asked. So he too had witnessed the drama. I mentally face-palmed myself. He was waiting. I nodded at him. "She took bus no. 14 from this stop," he said, pointing at the bus stop opposite the road. "Thanks mate," I said and hurried towards the
bus stop. I had no idea where bus no 14 stopped. And out of all stops, at what stop she had gotten down. Though it was a pretty normal day, for me, everything about this day was turning out to be abnormal. I decided to follow my instincts.
Which, if at all were there anywhere, weren't telling me anything at the moment. So I waited at the stop for bus no. 14. As I looked around, my eyes caught the guard looking at me. I smiled at him sheepishly. He knew my little secret. That I was stalking an unknown girl. He didn't return my smile though. He went about his work, holding the door open for incoming and outgoing patrons. Thankfully, the bus arrived and saved me any further humiliation. I got in through the rear door. It was almost empty.No one wanted to roam around the city in the scorching heat on a Sunday afternoon. Except crazy, smitten guys like me. I wondering sat on a seat, what destination I would tell the conductor. Just then
a flicker of movement caught my eye. I got up to take a good look. There it was. The scarf. The white scarf with sequinned border that she had loosely tied her hair with. It fluttered in the wind as the bus gathered speed. "Where to?" the conductor asked,
totally disinterested. "Whose scarf is that?" I asked him, pointing at the scarf.He looked at me with the expressions as if I had asked him to get naked. "Whose scarf is that?" I repeated the question, giving him an expression that said, come on, it's a simple question dude. "How am I supposed to know?" he replied when he realised I was serious. "Must be some lady," he added as an afterthought.
I decided to still try my luck. "Where did that lady get off?" I asked. Now he looked at me like I was getting naked.But I kept staring at him defiantly. His look said, are you serious?? But I kept looking him straight in the eyes, to him know I was damn serious. "Parel," he said, probably to get me off his back. I was astonished he remembered. But of course, how could anyone not remember such a mesmerising face! "Thank you," I replied, meaning it. But he remained disinterested. "Ticket till?" he asked.
"Parel," I said confidently.He looked at me pointedly. Now he too knew my little secret. His eye brows were raised by just half a millimeter. But he said let nothing and handed me the ticket. I went ahead and grabbed the scarf. It was stuck in a nail that had come out from one of the seats. I turned around to see if the conductor had seen me. He had. He was staring at me. But then he averted his gaze and went about his business. With the only other guy on our bus. For a moment I thought he too was staring at me. Did he too know my little secret? That I was stalking an unknown girl? With the scarf clutched tightly in my hand, I got down at Parel. The sun was shining harshly and I could feel beads of sweat forming on my forehead. I wiped my forehead with the scarf and as I did so, I smelled the perfume. Her perfume. Wow! It was tantalising to all my senses. It was the smell of crushed roses. I kept on taking deep breaths so that I could
fill my entire lungs and eventually my entire being with her smell.
A footpath man walking bumped on into the me and brought me out of my reverie. And back to reality. Here I was, on a hot Sunday afternoon, standing on the footpath in an unknown area, smelling the scarf of a mysterious girl whom I was stalking for no reason. I was certainly going crazy.Before people around me could notice my odd behaviour,
I began walking towards one side with purpose and stride, though I was totally clueless what I would do next. The footpath led to a road which had small shops on both sides. Shops that sold kurti, earrings, necklaces, purses...
and scarves. I stopped in my tracks when I saw an exact replica of the scarf that I was now clutching to my chest. He looked at me pointedly. Now he too knew my little secret. His eye brows were raised by just half a millimeter. But he said nothing and handed me the ticket. I went ahead and grabbed the scarf. It was stuck in a nail that had come out from one of the seats. I turned around to see if the conductor had seen me. He had. He was staring at me. But then he averted his gaze and went about his business. With the only other guy on our bus.
For a moment I thought he too was staring at me. Did he too know my little secret? That I was stalking an unknown girl? With the scarf clutched tightly in my hand, I got down at Parel. The sun was shining harshly and I could feel beads of sweat forming on my forehead. I wiped my forehead with the scarf and as I did so, I smelled the perfume. Her perfume. Wow! It was tantalising to all my senses. It was the smell of crushed roses. I kept on taking deep breaths so that I could fill my entire lungs and eventually my entire being with her smell. A man walking on the footpath bumped into me and brought me out
of my reverie. And back to reality. Here I was, on a hot Sunday afternoon, standing on the footpath in an unknown area, smelling the scarf of a mysterious girl whom I was stalking for no reason. I was certainly going crazy.
Before people around me could behavior, walking notice towards I began my odd one side with purpose and stride, though I was totally clueless what I would do next. The footpath led to a road which had small shops on both sides. Shops that sold kurti, earrings, necklaces, purses...and scarves. I stopped in my tracks when I saw an exact replica of the scarf that I was now clutching to my chest.
Without formulating any plan of what I was going to do or say, I entered the shop, and began examining the scarf.
"250 rs sir," a bored sales girl informed me. She probably hadn't had her lunch yet. Her face screamed hypoglycaemia.
"Has anyone recently bought a similar scarf as this?"
She was confused.
"Has anyone recently bought a scarf just like this one?" I repeated my question, dangling the scarf in her face.
She gave me 'the look' after which she was
probably going to kick me out.
But she turned and went inside. A moment later she was back with another girl who probably just had lunch.
"Yes sir?" She asked with a plastic sweet smile.
"Has anyone recently bought a same scarf as this?"I repeated again.
"Yes, a few days back a girl bought it," she said, now eyeing me skeptically, "Why do you ask sir?"
"Actually she's my girl friend and she left her scarf at my place,” I blurted out, wondering how such a ridiculous thing could leave my
mouth. “I need to return it, and hence wanted her address,” I added.
The girls exchanged 'the look'.
"Your girl friend?" She asked.
The way she asked offended me as it sounded like I was the last person on the earth who could have a girl friend. Though she was probably right!
"Yes," I replied with fake valor.
"Then you don't know where she stays?" She asked, one eyebrow raised.
Oh shit! Now I would have to lie more.
"Her parents dont know about us. She visits my place, but I have never been to hers, though I am sure its somewhere nearby,” I said, aware how ridiculously fake it sounded.
I don't know if my lie convinced the girl, but she exchanged a glance with the hypoglycaemic girl, gave me a smile and went to bring her receipt book.
She searched for what felt like eternity and just as I was about to lose hope, she showed me the receipt for the scarf.
The bill was in the name of Anamika, and a mobile number was scribbled on it.
Anamika! How apt!
"Sorry sir, there's no address on it,” she said, closing the receipt book.
I had to think fast. I needed the phone number. But there was no way she was going to believe I didn't have the mobile number of my girl friend.
"Wait a minute. Show me the receipt again,” I said, a plan quickly formulating in my brain. Never had my brain worked so fast.
She opened the book again. I quickly saw the mobile number and stamped it to memory.
"Anamika. No, you have the wrong girl. Her name is Raavi".
Really? Raavi? The female character from the daily soap my mom watches at home?
"Oh, then it must be some other shop," the girl said, still eyeing me suspiciously, as if she didn't believe a single word I had said. The hypoglycaemic girl too was staring at me.
I left the shop as fast as I could. I quickly retrieved my mobile from my pocket and punched the numbers I had been reciting in my head. Had my memory been so sharp and brain been so active and creative when I was in school, I would probably have been a rocket scientist by now.
I dialed the number without thinking.