“Race?” Adhiraj looked at me in askance.
“Naah…I am too depressed.” said I in a glum voice.
“Just because you couldn’t answer a couple of questions before Ntika or Disha. Gimme a break, man. Sometimes you nerds just freak me out.”
” You could never undergo the jubilation experienced after thrashing a topper in their own field of expertise, be it the school examination or the pursuit to achieve the result to a mathematical endeavour foremost in a class…”
“Whatever.” He appeared bored. He deflected the course of the Hercules he was tormenting with his weight to avoid a head on collision with an incoming auto rickshaw. Two seconds later I had to do the same thing to save my life. The Evening Traffic had swelled up, building a mist of smoke and automobile exhausts in the air, maybe due to indignation that too many vehicles were allowed to flout vehicular norms today. It shrieked and honked, raised a cataclysmic cacophony and injected into our bloodstream copious amounts of carbon monoxide and lead and nitrogen oxides and whatever else they were teaching us in classes. It had been Pater’s idea to allow me a bicycle for my daily commute to the math tuitions in New Colony, thinking aloud that it built strength and character, though I am still at a loss to understand why or how it could build character. Now I wouldn’t even agree with the former.
We were now zipping past the Big Haldiram shop when Adhiraj, his bicycle wobbling precariously near the pavement, shouted,” Hey buddy, check out that babe!!”
“Chutiye, you wanna die or what? Where?” said I.
“There, near that western depot book, on that bike with that geeky man. Wearing black sleeveless top.”
Now I had to see this. Young girls who wore Black Sleeveless Tops were as much a rarity in those days as Dragons, or for that matter, Unicorns.
And sure enough, I saw that girl, but only so much as to see her zipping away with her boyfriend or whoever he was, her wild hair flowing with abandon behind her wake. From what I perceived, she was a hot chick.
I looked at Adhiraj. Something in his eyes told me that he was game.
We accelerated our bicycles to catch up with that bike, which was fast going to disappear from the horizon into oblivion. We huffed and puffed, our minds just open enough to register the fact that our normal route was now half a kilometer away, now one. The bike would have gone on further had not the Evening Traffic done a deed that made me truly appreciate its benevolence.
It shone on us the red light.
We were still a good distance away, weaving our way in and out of cars, buses, bikes, auto rickshaws, rickshaws, bicycles and jaywalkers, paying no heed whether we hurt somebody or broke a rear view mirror. We looked at each other as we neared. We were seconds away from viewing her face, and that made us exultant. Then something happened that made me curse Providence.
The light turned green.
“Motherfucking bastard!!” Adhiraj was conversing with Providence.
Accelerating again, we watched helplessly as the bike went on further, taking us farther from our own destination by the second, devouring miles like a famished peasant. Up ahead in the distance, I saw the green change into red, and I prayed it would remain so until we had achieved our objective. The bike stopped, and behind it lined up an array of autos, tempos and cars.
Rubbing a stitch in my chest, I rode through the narrow space the automobiles allowed me, Adhiraj maintaining the flank. We crept closer. Any second now.
She turned her glorious face towards us, except it was glorious no more.
Black complexion, yellowish teeth were to be beheld in the first look. The second look made her small beady and blunted nose conspicuous. The third scrutiny was enough for us to decide that she wouldn’t definitely be our soul mate unless the Third World War broke out and she was the only woman left on earth. A sudden realization of suffocation made me draw in breaths through unmeasured wheezes of air. The traffic went ahead, taking with it the object of our misery.
Adhiraj came on ahead, grimacing all the while. “K.L.P.D., eh?”
“Be damn sure about that.”
“I’ll leave now.”
“There she goes, that bitch.”
And indeed she went, her black frizzy hair billowing behind her.
P.S.- In case any one has a problem with decoding the full form of KLPD, may leave a comment. I shall reply to him/her via email. I couldn’t litter the post with expletives more than I already had.