Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Leaving It Behind

I didn’t know what to expect, really.

I’d been waiting for about half an hour already (late – check) and I hadn’t even gotten a call or a text from her apologizing for the delay (snob – check).  Already done with a cup of coffee and half an hour’s worth of my Twitter feed, I didn’t know what else to do to pass time.

There was a kid sitting at the table in front of me with his mum. She was trying to read the newspaper and have her tea, but the boy kept asking her questions about fish and other marine life. He’s going to be a marine biologist for sure, I thought. Or at least own an aquarium for a few months until he found his next obsession.

Anyway, the kid was at the next table. This had meant that even though I had a cigarette lying in front of me on top of its carton with my trusty lighter right next to it, I couldn’t light the damn thing. I have this thing of not smoking in front of kids, no matter what.  I guess I want to set a good example to them. Smoking really is a sick and disgusting habit. It does nothing but hasten you to your death bed. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have a death bed. You could just end up having a heart attack on your bike in the middle of the road and then crash into the truck in front of you that you’d been trying to overtake for the past 20 minutes, and then ricochet off the bridge and into the cold, dark (smelly) waters of the Hussain Sagar. A triple-threat. And No death-bed. THAT’s a bad hand to be dealt.

So I don’t smoke in front of kids.

My hands were itching. I either needed to go all the way down and order another coffee or pretend that the kid wasn’t there and light up. But that wasn’t going to happen.

I got up, turned around, and there she was – smiling, brushing back the hair from her face and just being gorgeous. She was late, but I didn’t care. She wasn’t apologetic about being late, but I didn’t care.

We said “hello” and she sat down in front of me, blocking my view of the kid (now explaining to his mum why octopi had sucker-like-disgusting thingies on their limbs). I still couldn’t smoke but it didn’t matter. She was here.

We spoke a lot; college, life in the two cities we’d both lived in, families, how living in India’s a pain in the ass and a lot more. She smiled all through. I was mesmerized by her. I had 3 more cups of coffee. I knew I was going to regret it later on, but I didn’t want her to stop talking. The way she spoke with just that tiny hint of a South Indian accent – I was hooked.

We finally got up to leave a couple of hours later. I offered to drop her home and she accepted.

We hardly spoke on the ride to her place, but I didn’t care. The conversation we had at the coffee shop was still running through my head.

When we finally reached the end of her lane, she got off the bike, said she had a really nice time, smiled again and left. I watched her walk down the road for a few seconds, and then decided it would be stalker-ish to wait any longer. I turned my bike around, but stole one last glance as I did. She didn’t look back. I didn’t care.

As I lay awake in bed that night, replaying the whole conversation again in my head, I realized something - I had left the cigarette, lighter and carton back at the coffee shop on the table.