Air India flight 773 – Landed 8:15 PM, delayed by 20 minutes.
She was desperate to break through the aircraft doors and reach her destination as soon as she could. However, things didn’t seem to go her way. Moreover, the constant getting up and going to the washroom had made her co-passengers complain about her to the air hostess. Although nothing happened. As the flight landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, her inside started making more noises. It isn’t that this is the first time she came back home, her home, from the city that gave her no joy. But this time it was special. She was looking forward to join back work and start new projects that she had been planning. But the delay had burned down already. She felt as if all her coming plans will be delayed due to this one delay. She had enough. She got up, excused herself, and got her luggage down from the hold and run. She came and stood in front of the door as queue formed behind. She felt good. She told herself, “am leading the way.”
The walk to the conveyor belt and getting luggage took another 30 minutes of her time and she lost patience. By the time she reached the taxi stand, all she wanted to do was sit in the cab, light a cigarette and run for her life. However, nothing happens smoothly when it comes to her. The taxi drivers got into a fight, refusing to drive her far to her destination. Almost when she decided to call the police and make a complaint using her powers, a taxi driver agreed.
The drive lasted 40 minutes. Her house empty, with signs of the place haven’t been occupied by anyone since she left, as she was the only occupant. Her mind started floating. “Let's go out, the city looks a pearl’s necklace tonight, am bored, I need some entertainment.”
She kept her bags and without changing or getting fresh, she got out. White shirt and blue jeans. Perfect. Black converse, even better.
She decided to walk to the nearest pub as her car was blocked from all four sides by cars of different shapes. Certainly others had no idea she would be landing back tonight. After giving the security instructions that she doesn’t want her parking area to be blocked by egoistic cars, she started walking.
Mumbai never seemed so beautiful as it looked tonight. Bright lights, all running towards her on the road, loud noises, trying to wake her up from the sleepwalk and staring eyes, making her feel wanted. Mumbai, she was back in her city of dreams.
Nearing Blue eyes (name changed), she saw few familiar faces. But she wasn’t in a mood to socialise. She needed her space and time to think, to dive in her thoughts and decide and plan, “what next from tomorrow morning.” As she entered familiar faces started increasing. She thought, “Did I do the right thing to spend my time in the noisiest of all places in the neighbourhood?” But since childhood since did what she decided, instantly. Her father taught her; always go with the first thought. The second thought is a sign of not being sure. She didn’t want be proved wrong. She entered and when her eyes met one of her regular entertainers, she was directed to her regular and favourite place. But today was different. She wanted her space. She set her eyes on one of the high chairs and straightaway made her to the counter.
“Regular but without water. And no ice. It is cold inside.” And the bartender winked.
She started the ritual of thinking, “What next?”
“Nope not now, let’s not think about the list, so what I can follow it tomorrow again. Am getting distracted. May be I should have got the diary...”
As she was going and running through her random thoughts, little did she realise the empty seat next to her was no emptier and someone was staring at her busy yet silent face.
“You have any problem there with your thoughts?”
“Hello.” The guy waved. She saw.
“You are one busy lady in a big city.”
“I said you having problem thinking.”
“Sorry do I know?”
“No but yes now you do.”
“Very mesmerizing but am not mesmerized.” And she got up to find another empty seat. But the man caught hold of her hands. And left. She stopped.
“Is there any problem? Or are drunk?”
“I didn’t even have my first drink of the week.”
“But sorry I have no intention of buying you one.”
“Let me buy you one and myself one then.”
“Flattered. But no thanks. I earn enough to drink.”
“But not enough to converse I guess.”
“I guess you forgot this is India. You can try those stunts elsewhere out of India.”
“Young lady it is what you think what matters not the society. So stop thinking so much and stop hampering your mind. Give him some rest.”
She decided to sit but her random thoughts refused to stop irritating her.
“So what do you do?”
“Presently am thinking why I decided to visit this place today.”
“I think you need some pen and paper.” He took a tissue from the counter and offered her pen. “Go ahead, pen it down.”
She kept on staring at him. Fair, somewhere around 6 feet, swims a lot, drinks scotch, and loves his shorts and watches. Davidoff Cool Water fan. May be plays an instrument. Banker or may be a management kid. “You are quite distracting.”
“Honoured but you are nothing less.”
“You were reading me.”
“I was observing you.”
“You a writer?”
“Am a painter.”
“What do you paint?”
“So you are a writer.”
“Ok, let us not play riddles anymore. I love poetry but not the Samuel Taylor Coleridge style.”
“Who is your favourite then?”
“Thank gosh you didn’t say Shakespeare.”
“But didn’t I surprise you.”
“No, I half-expected your answer.”
“So what do you do?”
“You are drunk.”
“Quite an understatement.”
“Are we gonna go like this the whole night?”
“I intend to think and plan, you are distracting me.”
“I am trying to help you.”
“By freeing you from your thoughts?”
“As it is imprisoning you.”
She remained quiet for a while, staring down in the table at her empty glass. She desperately wanted to think and set things right, pen down goals. She told herself, “Not happening. Am getting distracted. Help me.”
He replied, “I can help you.”
“Did I speak so loud?”
“You didn’t speak at all.”
“Who are you?”
“Don’t you know what mom’s say?”
“Don’t talk to unknown people.”
“So why am I talking to you?”
“Coz your heart wants to but your mind right now overpowers your heart.”
“So what should I do?”
“Dance with me.”
“I don’t dance.”
“I mean dance with words.”
“Write it down.”
“What you are thinking.”
“Am thinking time.”
“You are thinking what you want to think.”
“How do you know?”
“Coz...” And he stopped. Smiled.
“Let me buy you one drink.”
“No thanks. I had my last.”
“But that was your first.”
“Once bitten, twice shy.”
“So what next?”
He replied, “The heart says stay and converse. The mind says bug off and think and plan.”
“Are you reading me?”
“No am observing you.”
She remained silent.
“What are you thinking?”
“It’s a Sunday. Enjoy it.”
“No what next?”
He smiled and now he kept quite.
She got up, paid her bill and turned to him, “Thanks. It was quite lovely talking to you.”
“Pleasure is all mine’s.”
And she walked out of the road. A thought kept her irritating. “What next?” But she was too messed up with her thoughts to answer. He had messed it even more.
She walked towards a taxi and got in. It started. She started thinking, “I should have spent a few more days in Cal. My thinking would have been in controls.”
But suddenly she felt like going back to the pub and sitting and conversing with the unknown. She instructed the driver to turn. She reached, entered passing those familiar faces again. But he wasn’t there anymore. She turned back to return, when the bartender stopped.
“Ma’am, the sir sitting with you left this note for you.”
She was surprised. She took the note and read it. She read it again. Thrice.
She didn’t know whether to follow her heart or just act practical. But she decided to go with her first thought. She left and started walking. And while she read the words of the note again, this time loudly, too loudly for the beggars sleeping on the road to hear – “Write it down, blog it, for one day I might stumble upon you, like today and the next time you would not make the same mistake like today. May be next time you will converse more. But for now, write your heart out and post it. For I might find the girl in this big city, thought-free.”