It was a perfect summer day. A balmy sunshine falling on the road. A cool breeze was flowing carrying with it a refreshing scent of jasmine and lavender in the air. I started the car and turned the volume of the audio system to the maximum level. A backstreet boy song was playing. My favorite. As the car picked up speed, I rolled down the windows, placed the hand on the sill, and felt the wind on my face. It couldn’t get any better.
I was wrong.
Just when I thought nothing could be better, the fortune proved otherwise.
I was cruising on the road connecting to my old house when I saw a girl walking in my direction. Even from a distance, I got a sense of who she was. She was Rhea, a girl in my school on whom I have had a major crush for some time. I knew she didn’t live around there. She must have come to visit a friend or relative, maybe. Seeing her walking along the road, like this, I was pleasantly surprised. And also happy too. She was seeing me driving a car!
Remember those were the days of no internet and smartphones. No Facebook to send someone friend request before approaching them in person. No Instagram to flatter them with compliments on their pictures. Nor there was Whatsapp which could be used for endless chatting which youngsters do these days. Wooing a girl was difficult then, and we had very few ways to garner their attention. Driving was one of them. Not many in my age group drove them. Exclusivity commands respect. Always. And I was not shying away from encashing it this time.
So I straightened myself up. Looked at my face in the rearview mirror and pressed back an insolent strand of hair dangling across my forehead. Slowed down considerably so as to provide her with an ample opportunity to have a look at me. And the efforts didn’t go in vain. As I reached near to her, I saw her looking at me, smiling, and in that smile, I found a look of awe and appreciation in her eyes. I smiled back.
As she passed by I saw her turning her face towards my direction. I still don’t remember why I didn’t stop so as to chat with her. Maybe I was shy, or just too absorbed in my thought. But as soon as I had passed by her, I was gloating in this newfound success in my efforts to woo this girl. She had seen me. That’s what mattered. I felt good, impressed at my lucky stars to be seen like this.
And soon I was daydreaming about the next day conversation. “Hey,” I would tell her as she would smile at me. “I saw you yesterday,” she would say… “Yes, I saw you too,” I would answer and soon we would start chatting. In the matter of a few days we would be friends (or more than friends.) “Let’s go on a drive,” I would offer her, on a sunny day like this… “Yes, I would love that,” she would definitely answer… And soon we would be dati…
It was at the height of my dream spinning exercise that I felt a strong jerk that threw my body forward. And immediately I got thrown out of the world of dreams in which I was wooing a girl to the harsh reality where I had crashed into a parked car!! Lost in my thoughts I had drifted off to the left, banging on the car that was parked there.
A bit scared, and confused about what to do, I got out and walked to the front of the car. What I had feared had come true. I had dented her car. There was a visible dent on the rear bumper. There was one on mine too. But it was not that bad.
That’s when I saw a fat woman coming towards me.
Definitely the owner of the car, I thought as I tried to think what should I say to get out of this mess. She came and looked at the bumper. “You bumped my car!” she said, anger crystal clear in her voice.
“I’m sorry,” I replied not knowing any better to say.
She got down on her knees and started inspecting the dent. She kept on touching it, for some time, while an audible mumble that betrayed the anger in her voice. Then she got up and put her hands on her waist. Still, she kept on looking at the bump.
“You have to pay for this,” she said after some time.
I was more than happy to pay her up and settle the issue quickly. Repairing a dent would not cost more than a couple of hundreds, I knew. I had got my scooter repaired a couple of times. More than a few bucks, I was worried if my father would come to know about it. Also, a small crowd had gathered around us obviously waiting for some show on a Sunday Morning.
At once, I started fishing my pocket for the money.
Seeing my promptness, she calmed down a bit. The angry expression had vanished and she was smiling now. “Why to stretch things,” she started saying, “when things can be settled among ourselves. Unnecessarily Police will get involved.”
“Yes, Aunty, that makes sense,” I replied as I thrust forward two bills of hundred at her.
“Five thousand,” she barked. “You know I need to get the whole bumper changed! It can’t be repaired
Blood froze in my veins.