I am sitting beside you, feeling cozy on the car seat, looking on the road through the semicircle covered by beaded water droplets on the windshield.
It has rained before we left the party, the roads were wet, air is clear and the sky is afresh at night. I look towards tall buildings and light shimmer through the million glass window panes. You drive smoothly and I look towards you.
You have your eyes on the road and sometimes on the rearview mirror, shifting the gear. Though I am going home with you, a whiff of cool breeze hits me, filled with after rain sand gust making me travel 8 years down the lane to the very first memory of meeting you.
8 years Ago
I enter the classroom nervous, it’s the first day of my freshman year. I look at the benches painted in blue, full of boys and girls. It rained on the very first day of college making me look like a freak. I adjust my glasses and sit on the first bench beside a stranger. Speaking Nothing!
I gulp a mouthful of air, sitting there looking at all the fellow students entering the classroom. The day is getting uncomfortable seeing too many new faces. I see you entering the classroom, and you come to sit behind me. I wonder how difficult it would be to remember new faces and new names.
We get our coordinator with introductory attendance and you mark your presence to the name Sameer. Sameer Sachdeva.
In the course of the graduation years, we opted for the same subjects, same class, same lectures, same labs, and even the same friends but not friends with each other. You were always in class, within the distance of always 12 feet apart more or less, but we seldom talked and you were good friends with all my friends, we had a common group.
Sophomore happened, fest happened, farewell happened, and in the course of exams, our group outings, our projects, you and I never happened. We bid our goodbyes, and we moved to the same city living our fast fleeting life to make our careers, only to hear about you like a distant star.
College reunion happened, our friends got married, their siblings got married, they celebrated their anniversaries, they invited us for baby showers, their baby’s first birthdays. Sometimes you don’t make it to the invitations and sometimes it’s me who doesn’t show up at the gatherings too. I never think of you and you also probably don’t think about me, we don’t meet despite being in the same city and 4 more years goes by.
Until today a coincidence happened, and we are together at the engagement party of one of our friends. As usual, we see and casually greet each other. It has been a long time since I saw you. Everyone is indulged in food and drinks. I take a blueberry breezer and I notice you. You look well groomed, wearing black shirt and denim. You have been working out, you look ripped wearing that shirt and you look attractive. I drink more and now I am having a beer. I see other people, engaging, talking, joking, drinking most of them and you don’t drink, you instead are on the food counter.
A few more hours pass by and the party is fading, everyone is leaving and I look at my watch it’s already 11pm. I need a ride back home, so I try booking an UBER. It is raining outside and my UBER ride doesn’t show up. I spend 45 minutes waiting to book an UBER, trying an UBER driver to pick up but fail. It’s almost midnight, and I am still stuck, until one of our friend seeing my plight tells you to drop me home since you are the only one sober. *COINCIDENCE*
I walk outside with you wearing my red dress trying to save it from the water down. Little raindrops are visible. I see the water falling in the bright neon light rays of the streetlight. It is quiet and leaves are rustling to the sudden gush of the wind. I am wearing an off shoulder dress and I get goose pimples.
You take me to your car, you are chivalrous, you open the car door for me. I sit carefully with my wet black heels, holding my red dress trying not to besmirch your car floor as you close the door for me. I am a little nervous and guilty, feeling you have to drop me off, no matter whatever your plans are for the night, or for the weekend, or for tomorrow, or that you have to drive an extra mile for me.
Your car smells wispy nice and you come sit, wear your seatbelt and drive off the party venue. I hear the tires screeching on the road, of the cars rushing past us with the lovey-dovey couple inside and looks like they are out for the music filled midnight long drive. Song Beats audible until far away.
♩ ♪ Higher Higher playing
I look out the window, the sky is clear, stars twinkle with peace of night and rain filled moist wind brushing against my face, I look at you being lost in the memory lane watching your rearview mirror driving peacefully. You notice me and I see you closing the window panes, my goose pimples go away. I am comfy and you break the silence for the first time in 8 years.
“Lavanya Malhotra, How is life?” I like the way my name sounds with your voice.
“It’s good, how is yours?” I ask feeling drawn towards you.
“It’s Going good.” you respond casually.
“Are your parents also asking you to marry soon?” I ask to know about the girl in your life!
“No, I haven’t met anyone.” You respond taking a turn.
I stay quiet to listen to you speak more about this, and the little trick works. You say
“My elder sister just got married, she is having a baby. So not anytime soon. Also, I’ll marry when I am ready, not when my parents tell me to.” I listen to you looking at the beautiful clean black empty roads. With only you and me.
You drive swiftly, smoothly and I enjoy for the first time in years sitting in the car. I want this moment to never go away. I feel relaxed and you make me insanely comfortable talking about things that make me want to just roam with you in the car all night and gaze at the stars in this clear night on the top of the tallest building one after the other. This city never sleeps and I try to see the tallest building as we pass by.
You look at me sticking my neck out to look at the building edges and you grab a jacket from the backseat and give it to me. I look at the jacket and wonder why are you giving it to me.
“Wear it! ” You say lovingly.
I drape your jacket around my shoulders and it smells like you, heavenly. Its soft and brown leather. You open the sunroof of the car and ask me to take off my heels. I take them out and you ask me to place my feet on the cushioned seat handle and go out on the sunroof. I remove my seatbelt and climb up the sunroof. You support my legs helping me go up, and I am sitting on the top of your car.
I look at the starry sky and cool air driving my hair all back in the breezy flow. I hold your jacket and feel every inch of my skin embracing the wind closing my eyes and I feel liberated of all the responsibilities, I ever had in my life. I am breathing heavily and tears start flowing down my eyes with all the chilled breeze making its way through my soul.
I look at the lit up buildings white and yellow. You are driving faster and tears don’t stop. I cry my heart out, wearing out my makeup. I remove your jacket and your hand reaches to hold it. I open my arms out and take it all in. I wish this joy to never end and I feel so light, stress-free and beautiful.
After enjoying to my heart, taking a few moments to wipe away my tears, I climb back to the seat and you close the sunroof. I look away and you offer me your handkerchief. Chivalry! I wipe away my mascara guilt free and I smile, returning it back to you. You smile and speak nothing as if you understand everything. I stay quiet and this serenity is so gratifying.
You are still driving slowly, until you make sure I have my moment, driving along the same streets again and again. I come back to senses realizing you are driving waiting for me to tell you the directions to my home. You drive away as I tell you to.
You push brakes in front of my home and its 2pm. I grab my heels, wondering what to say. I say nothing, walking myself out bare feet, holding my heels in my hand and close the car gate. I reach and stand in front of my house waving you goodbye. You wave back at me and your car doesn’t move. Guards open my house door and I walk barefoot through the garden lawn to reach my home entrance. I look back and you look at me. I stand and I wave you back. You start the car and you leave.
I walk inside and go up to my room. I wash my face off the ruined makeup and I lay down in my bed, looking at pictures of you from the party.
-Sameer Sachdeva-Reached Home!