On Ring Road

You take off your glasses and wipe it and curse the heavens. I am too busy kick-starting my bike to pay much attention to you. Or am I?
 
“Here, wipe your face with this” A huge hand-kerchief is offered. Jeez, do guys still use hand-kerchiefs – I thought it was the age of tissue paper.
 
Before you even complete the sentence, I have said No. Moron. Do you think your kerchief will protect my dignity from Indra’s vagaries?
 
“It won’t protect you. But the rain drops won’t hit you so hard on the face, if you have something covering you. Why on earth don’t you wear a helmet?”
 
You have been always good at reading my mind. “Loser” I mutter. 
 
“What”
 
“The rains! Can’t I get angry about the bloody monsoons?”
 
“You are the one who loves rain, goes all poetic about the damn thing”.
 
So I am. Do you have a problem with it? Its not that I go poetic looking into your eyes. When was the last time we talked? Yesterday – you were discussing Rubco chappals.
 
You are wearing nice shoes now though. Nice tan leather shoes. I like tan shoes, though I bet they getting wet and squiggly. I snigger. Not too long though. A gust of wind blows a tree branch right on to the middle of the road. Great, now we have firewood to light a fire, in case we get marooned on Ring Road.
 
I turn my back toward the wind. The rain drops feel like pin pricks on my skin. Tiny ones, like the ones I felt when you were laughing with her yesterday. I am glad about the rain drops. Taste of your own medicine.
 
My teeth are beginning to chatter. I shuffle.
 
 “ Come here.”
 
“No”
 
“Suit yourself. Jeez, I could die for a ciggy”.
 
Oh what the f***. Am I supposed to die like I wonder? Looks like this might be the Bombay deluge. But in Bombay, there was a mass of humanity who formed human ropes and helped each other ; you will get me out of here? With your hair plastered on to your forehead, and your half crouching position, you don’t really inspire too much confidence, you know. Maybe they will find us together tomorrow, in an embrace, just like they found Tom and Maggi in the Mill on the Floss. Now, where on earth did that come from?
I can’t see very well. The cars pass by, windshields swaying furiously. The lights are faint, and the road is slowly flooding. Some of them slow down as they pass by, but don’t stop. I wonder what they are thinking about us. Lovers maybe. Lovers romancing on ring road, and caught in the downpour. So ridiculous.
 
It’s a grey landscape. Grey rain, grey clouds, grey sky. Streaks of silver lightning. Grey blue tarred road, fast disappearing with the dirty brown water accumulating at the edges. I shiver once more.  
 
The pavement is not much. Just elevated mud, now squishy pudding. Dots of grass and I stare at them with all my concentration. Is the feeling of numbness good? Beyond, it is defence land – where they makes planes, or fly them, or whatever. Straggly trees, not like the ones in Kerala. And lots of grass, like in praires I guess. Getting bashed up thoroughly, all of them. Just like us.
 
“Come over”
 
“No”
 
“Listen, this is ridiculous. Lets move closer to edge. The wind could blow you over to road, and I don’t intend coming after you.”
 
I always knew that. Why would you come after me?
 
“Ok”
 
You move over close to the fence. One lone straggly tree. I lean against it. Is it safe – does wood conduct electricity? I can’t seem to remember. My eyes are on the chest hair peeking out of your T-shirt. Straggly, like the trees. Nice. Sigh.
 
“Why the sigh?”
 
“Nothing”
 
“Common, what is it?”
 
I look up from the chest hair. Eyes, silver blue stare at me. Tenderly? Confused, I blabber. “This rain is called Vennal Mazha you know, but its untimely you know, and its beautiful in kerela, you know, really beautiful, fiery and cleansing…”
 
I am blabbering I know. Do you know this is exactly what happens you start discussing something serious? I get shy. And scared. And embarrassed. Some people get quiet, some people get talkative, I get garrulous. And then, I blabber again, when I see you walk away from me. The disappointment in your eyes pricks. Like these rain drops.
 
My voice tapers off. The rivulets flow past your chin and down your neck. Down to the chest hair.
 
“ We can talk you know”.
 
I look up sharply at the humor in your voice. Teasing is it? Silver blue eyes smiling.
 
“Tell me about Kerala” Still teasing, is it? I search through his eyes. Can only see silver grey. It was the landscape.
 
Talk with the heavens pounding on us? Jeez, the guy must be crazy. “You have read this book on the rains..by Anita Nair?….”
 
The grey is changing color. To silver maybe. I am talking. You listen, silver blue eyes as watery as the clouds above. I wonder if you notice the way my clothes are sticking on to me. I straighten up so that you don’t notice my tummy sticking out.
 
“Looks like the rain is subsiding. We could get going you know”
 
“I know. I have never read this book you mentioned. But the description that you are giving now is much less pretentious you know. Do you write? You should you know..”
 
I move away. “Wait ”
 
Silver blue eyes again. Before I know, I can feel your breath on my face. Not warm , just silver blue or silver grey – I don’t know. One finger pushes away the hair away from my eyes.
 
My hair – jesus f***** Christ! I am sure I look a sight. Self-consciously I run my hands through them. Silver blue eyes smile again. One hand catches my hands and place them on your shoulder.
 
“Wait a sec.” For what? Jeez, does the guy have to give orders even while he is about to kiss?
 
I close my eyes. I can feel the wet kerchief as you wipe my face.  And then, your arms around me. Was that your lips graze the back of my neck? A touch, a graze, imagination.
 
 And then you gather up my hair. Away from my neck and tie it with the kerchief.
 
“There. That’s so much more better”. I open my eyes. Silver blue smiling eyes again. “You have lovely collar bones. Show them off .”
 
“umm”
 
“Let’s get going. I will help you start the bike.” We rode away.
 

We discuss Rubco chappals next week. And I have started tying my hair with a kerchief.

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