Wheeler Dealer, Heart Stealer

Sometime last year, my parents thought that it would be a great idea to escape the blazing heat of their town and pay me a visit in the cool capital. As it happens, I am a very thoughtful person and also notorious for toeing the line. I took them out to the water park. In retrospect, it was a well-informed decision validated by my lineage, intuition and the entire known history of mankind because it was at this place that I first saw her.

I was speeding down the tallest ride at the park at tremendous pace, almost as fast as it takes happy moments to last. My parents stood directly at the end of the ride to break my fall, and only ended up blocking the view of my beautiful follow through. The impact made my right incisor fly off. I understood physics better that day.

A bolt of pain shot through my head; pain so intense that my brain went into hyperdrive and produced a beautiful face. She was in the pool next to ours, coughing up the excess water, nose and mouth red from the effort. But my moist eyes made a spectacle of this scene. Her face was etched exactly as it was in my memory, with the swimming goggles swinging around her neck, taking most of the toll from her immediate troubles.

The tooth injury retired us for the remaining weekdays but we could not resist a one-of-a-kind recommendation from my roommate who had discovered a new restaurant which was the best in India (he also informed us of its branch which was the best in Asia). We decided to visit the one best in India. We were in between the meal and my mother had just sent back my second Coke of the meal, ordering pineapple juice instead. I looked around the restaurant apprehensively, just like the person who after falling from a bicycle looks around for any jeering witnesses to the fall, rather than looking for injuries. There she was, peering right over towards our table.

She was almost smiling. I looked towards her again after some time, as she took one of her hands and put it over her head to stop the locks of her hair from falling down her forehead. She had curly hair and they fell all too beautifully over her eyes, covering her view altogether. So she stopped them short midway with only her left hand, and with her slender right wrist picked up a fresh cool glass of Coke. Perhaps unable to see what the girl was eating or drinking, my mother remarked, “I wish you get married to a beautiful girl like that.”. This was the first worthwhile affirmation from their trip so far.

The trip was fast coming to an end, so I decided to take my parents to a beach town via an overnight train. Post dinner, I helped my parents to their sleeping berths in the train. I then started reading a book whose author had committed suicide at the age of thirty six after having written ten novels within a space of twenty years. “Publishing is not my headache,” declared his suicide note. “I have done my share of work, the rest is upto you,” he had written in his final letter addressed to no one. So, I was reading his fourth novel which addressed the subject of all the recesses that the author had had during his school days. This novel was in its fifth print and had accumulated all the prefaces to the previous editions, all by eminent authors from around the world. It was in between reading one of these prefaces that I realised that the train had not moved for some time. I went out to the door to ask around, where a few people were discussing how this was a total breakdown of government machinery, which was correct I suppose if you considered that they were talking in metaphors. I was informed that it would take another half hour for the train to move. It was also shared that the beach town we were going towards was under heavy rains and a storm was coming. The premonition of a ruined trip began weighing heavily on my mind so I moved away from the group of gloom.

At the end of the station platform I spotted a dimly lit bookstore, still open at this time of the night. I walked to it to have a look. No one was around so I began tapping on the counter and fiddled a bit with the magazines. Something moved beneath the counter. I waited, armed with a wasteful smalltalk question. She stood up, groggy from the sleep and began rubbing her eyes and arranging her famous curls wide as a heart, stopping my heart short. She looked at me after some time, as if ready for the question. So I said, “My parents already like you too much, will you marry me?” She did not look surprised so I repeated my question, “Will you marry me?”

She asked back in a calm, assured, confidently held pitch,”Why?” and then I, reaching in to one of the most spontaneous romanzas that brewed inside me whenever I saw her, breathed life into the few words that I have failed to match ever since, “Because I already see you everywhere.”

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