I had lied to the driver…
My drop location was, in fact, Kharadi, a good ten kilometers farther than the place I’d mentioned. The drivers usually don’t accept rides so far outside the city, especially at this hour of the night. Viman Nagar was still within the limits, and one could find cabs for that place. But not for Kharadi.
At that moment when I was on a call with the driver, I didn’t think much. But subconsciously, I knew telling the truth might make him cancel on me. And only after so much waiting I’d found this cab. God knows how long would it take to find another. So at that moment, I had acted on instinct and blurted out a white lie.
As it was a shared drive, there was one more passenger in the Cab. The driver must not have noticed my location yet for he was en route to the other passenger’s destination. So he started driving anyways without saying anything. But the thought kept on lingering over my head, like a full moon in a starless sky.
After some time, I took out the Kindle and opened the latest chapter of the book I was reading.
But my mind couldn’t stay still. I tried hard for some time. After that, I just looked outside at the city covered in rain ran past me. The view of the rain-drenched city calmed me down. Everything looked fresh, serene, as if part of an oil painting, the view induced by the wet window glass of the cab.
Around twenty minutes had passed when the other passenger deboarded the cab. It was then that I decided to bring up the topic of my drop location. I couldn’t muster up the courage to confess directly. So I started a small talk, hoping to gradually steer the conversation towards it and then apologize.
“I live in Pimpri,” he replied when I asked him where he lived. That was on the opposite side of the town, around thirty kilometers away from my place. I felt a pang of guilt in my stomach. “He has to drive thirty kilometers back to his home.”
After a brief pause, I resumed the conversation.
“It will be far off for you,” I tried to empathize. “It would very late by the time you reach Pimpri,” I stated the obvious, still not directly apologizing for misdirecting him earlier. The driver smiled and looked me into the rear mirror and smiled. “No that’s alright.”
I didn’t know what to say.
The driver surely must have seen my drop location now. I was the only passenger in the cab. But still, he wasn’t saying anything. I was overcome with a feeling of guilt. We usually give so much emphasis on words, but it is the absence of words, the silence, that sometimes hits you in a much more impactful way. The fact that driver didn’t say anything about what I’d done, made me feel bad even more.
I sank back into the seat and looked outside again. A few moments passed in silence. The driver slowed down to halt the car at a signal. My drop location wasn’t very far now. The driver must have sensed the uneasiness building within me. Then he said, “Don’t worry Sir,” I drive till seven in the morning anyway. So it’s not going to be late for me.”
“I will be on road for the entire night,” he said again.