Ting! My message tone.
“Vaa di poratheku” (Come outside).
I see him outside my window, on his black Karizma, aviators on, completely drenched from the rain and a huge grin on his face. My first thought was that he had had fever yesterday and now this; but I knew there was absolutely no point in reminding him of that or asking him to get back in somewhere warm.. He was just like that, a major pain in the ass. This man drives me crazy.
He looks straight at me and sets my insides on fire. Just like that. That’s all it takes every time. And I don’t know if it’s good or bad that he doesn’t have a clue that he can do that.
‘Erangi vaa di pothe’(Just come the hell out) he texts again.
I smile. Shaking my head and putting on my sternest face, I go out to tell him off, maybe persuade him to come in and wait the rain out.
His grin grows wider as I go out the gate. He swipes the water off his face and says ‘Keru’(Get on).
I said, “Are you frikkin’ crazy? Pani iniyum maaritilla, ennata. Agathotu keru” (Your fever isn’t even better yet. Get inside).
“Jaada erakkandu keradi” (Stop throwing a fit and get on).
He has this look in his eyes as if daring me to get onto the bike. He knows that my instincts to unleash my wilder side are warring with my eternal goody-two-shoes image. He’s the only one who even knows I have a wild side.
I ignore the butterflies that erupt.
“Njan varunilla, ponael pokko. Vayyande aaya ennodu parayan varandannu maatram”. (I’m not coming, go if you want. If you get sick just don’t tell me)
“Nee varum” (You’ll come.)
“Jitin, please. Paranjal kekku” (Listen to me)
“Ok listen, one round… you come with me and when we get back I’ll come in and dry my hair and drink your shitty hot chocolate and whatever. Deal?”
My resolve was weakening. “How long is this ‘round’?”
The handsomely evil glint is back, “Very small, promise.”
I get on and hold onto the sides real tight because I know from experience that if I don’t, I’ll end up in the middle of the road on my backside with a hard bump. By now, I’m also drenched completely. He gives me the helmet, I refuse. He knew I would. It’s creepy how well he knows me.
Off we go with the torrential rain hitting hard on our faces, the icy wind chilling us to the bones. The roads are empty, not even animals dare defy the rain this day. He rides fast but I detect a holding back. I couldn’t resist a jab, ‘Enthu patti? 175cc speedne modal edukkathadu nthe?”(What happened *smirk* Not taking advantage of the 175cc speed?). “Ennittu venam nee kadannu kaaraan.” (For you to screech the house down? No thank you). “Hmph.”
I realize we were going to the old fort. The scene changes from city roads lined with shops to the wide NH.
I’m actually glad I came. A drug-like euphoria spread though me as I extended my hands out… This is the closest I’ll ever get to flying. I'd always cherished our bike-rides for more reasons than one. Then I realized that he was looking at me on the rear-view, I held his gaze for a full minute, then I had to look away. Self-consciousness struck and I pulled my hands back in and wrapped them around me.
Something made me look back in the mirror. Disappointment colored my emotions when I saw him looking straight; I preferred self-consciousness to disappointment I realized.
I knew this was unhealthy on so many different levels and my friends had tried to help. Initially, they told me it was a crush and that it would go away with time, then they told me I was in love and I was besieged with tips on how to make him fall for me including one about seducing him (none of which I had the balls to try), then when they realized I’m never going to tell him anything nor was he going to come out of his oblivion to the way I feel, they gave up.
It would have actually been funny if I wasn’t head over heels for him.
I had no clue what he thought; neither did he put me into the ‘pengal’ (sister) category nor had he ever given me the slightest reason to believe that I was his ‘type’. Girlfriends came and went but no one serious enough to hold his attention for long. We had always bordered on the kind of friendship that was laden with potential but nothing ever happened. And after two years of holding my breath, I’d given up and resigned to have my insides twisted and heart thumped every time he came into my vicinity.
“Enthe onnum mindathe, kilukampetti?”(Why aren’t you saying anything, chatterbox). I snapped out of my reverie, “ Eey, onnum illa” (Nothing).
That was the instant something changed. I don’t know what made me… will never know, I guess. I put my hands around his waist, pulled myself flush against his back and put my head on his shoulder. I felt him stiffen… I waited for him to tell me I’d gotten the wrong idea… to gently let me down for I know that whichever way we chose go, he’d never hurt me on purpose.
He didn’t say a word.
He relaxed slowly against me and rode on in silence. I stole that moment from a lifetime and savored the feel of his jacket, the way he smelt, the curve of his stubble-roughened cheek. I knew it wouldn’t last long. I didn’t care anymore actually, I'd stepped over the cliff headlong into the gorge; I was ready for the pain of heartbreak.
He stopped right at the top… Perfect place, so to speak. It was like the Gods were mocking me – reveling in the beauty of Nature when I was going to get my heart fractured, probably forever.
The winds whipped our hair up to a mess. The rain had eased up to a drizzle and there was the glorious view of my beloved naadu (native place) scenery in all its beauty, freshly washed by the rains.
The engine puttered to a stop. Still not one word.
I slowly eased off and got to my feet. I couldn’t bear to look at him in the eye… I started walking.
He caught hold of my hand from behind and pulled me back. My heart stopped; here it comes I prepared myself for stinging words, resolved not to cry. At least not in front of him, never in front of him. I had sworn to myself I’d never let him see how much exactly he’d gotten to me.
I turned around still not looking at him. He got off, parked the bike and turned, never once letting go of my hand, as if he feared I’d run off (which, in all fairness, I was close to doing). He lifted my face to his with a finger.
“What took you so long?”
P.S: My inherent Malayali-ness has surfaced with the feeling that English would just not do justice to the guy’s character and hence the dialogs in Malayalam. And if you do understand the language and find that the translation is inaccurate or sounds silly, please understand that my translation skills are very poor.