She waited at the cross roads near the car service center looking at the busy moving traffic and the struggling traffic cop trying to manage the giant B.E.S.T buses and the two wheeler speedos. The sun was setting with the smog visible through the headlights on the road. She was physically present and mentally thinking of how her life has turned in the past 6 months.
Suddenly the cacophony on the road caught her attention and she saw a two wheeler lose its balance as a car slightly brushed it from behind. The man wasn’t too hurt. He coolly parked his scooty at the side of the road walked towards the car driver and knocked on his mirror. The driver preparing for an apology rolled his window down. The scooty rider removed his slipper and gave it hard on the drivers face, wore it again and walked away.
Ananya couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the rider’s idiosyncrasy. Well that’s Mumbai, no one has the time to land in a fight but they are such firefighters that they got to react at least. On the other side Ananya realized that it had been long that she had a hearty laugh like this, best would be the moments when she would be with her best friend not caring for the world laughing over things that normal people would not call sane.
The chain of thoughts were just on when an auto rickshaw came and stopped near her. Looking at a known figure in she hopped in and it drove off. There was silence, she placed her hand on her side and looked out as the auto drove at full speed. Suddenly she felt his hand placed on hers and she looked at him in the eye. Her hands were always cold and the warmth that his hands provided was more than she could ask for. He closed his eyes and nodded as if giving some assurance. She slightly smiled and nodded too confirming she understood that he would be around and all will be ok.
The road was full of speeding vehicles and the rickshaw drivers no less than Schumi took dangerous turns to avoid potholes. The vehicle had just crossed the first flyover and gave up. The driver dragged it to the side. Both Ananya and Rohan were in no hurry to reach anywhere. There are people with whom you feel for and want for so long that it is beyond time, money and even life. This was one of those relations. Not defined or named by the society. Rohan got off the and asked the driver what the problem was. Ananya tried to get down too, Rohan signaled her to be in shade. Her mobile buzzed and she was lost in her big bag to trace it. It was an airline message, mentioning the flight was delayed by 30 minutes. She smiled and looked to find Rohan nowhere in sight.
She would get a little restless if he would be out of sight. He appeared from the other side and placed the chilled bottle of water on her hand. She looked at him and smiled, he said in a soft tone, “This is to remind you, that you need to drink more water.” Ananya once felt she understood him and at times also felt she understood nothing. His way of caring was different, it wasn’t obvious and shown, and it was felt……
The driver pulled the handle twice but couldn’t start it, Rohan moved towards it and pulled it once and it started. He hopped in next to her and placed his hand on the side not to find hers. He looked at her and she realized his need. She placed her hand on his and the rickshaw sped off.
There were no words spoken, only the warmth felt. It had become some sought of ritual of him dropping and picking her from the airport. Their work involved a lot of travel. The rickshaw entered terminal 1B and stopped at the departure gate. They both alighted and waited looking at each other. ‘Oh, I forgot to mention the flight is delayed Rohan.’ He looked at her with a broad smile, ‘Good, let’s go then.’ ‘Where, it’s not much, just 30 minutes.’ Ananya said in a puzzled tone. ‘Every minute can be cherished, Ani.” He held her hand and pulled her away from the gate, hopped on the rickshaw again and sped off. They halted outside the Centaur hotel, both got down, he not leaving her hand moved to the tea stall. ‘Do chai, patti tez, cheeni kum’ (two teas, strong with less sugar) he ordered. That was their standard drink, their poison if you can put it, especially if it is from a road side tea stall. Every sip was like a cherished moment together. He would finish his tea so quick and light his Davidoff till the time Ananya sipped her tea.
They reached the departure gate in time. Both looked in each other’s eyes and held hands. A hug was very occasional in public, it was left for the moments which Rohan defined as his dream, where each day he would get up seeing her face and end the day by latching the door with only her to be with. She held his hand tight, to feel the warmth and treasure it till they met again……
Her hands are still always cold, and she still feels the warmth of his hand when she closes her eyes.