I am shoving her suitcase in the car trunk and then shoving it further down between her other bags, is when she says, “what are you doing? Be gentle! This one’s fragile.”
“Yeah?” I say, “Unfortunately I am not your cabin crew … and put a fucking sticker on this thing. Make it bold.”
“I have put a sticker on it. And it is bold. Look,” she points.
“Well then make it more bolder. I can barely see it,” I say.
“There is no such thing as, “more bolder””, she corrects me.
“Well, there is now,” I say, “And sorry, I am not born or brought up or moving to America, unlike some other people. For me, more bolder means, more bolder, you get it? Something I can see or read from 20 mtrs away … And oh! Boulder also means something I want people to get smeared by, when they annoy me.”
“I am sure, you can read this from far. If only you want to,” she says.
“Nope! I can’t. I can’t read or write things. I am stupid. Okay?”
She breathes deeply. Looks away and looks back at me.
“Really? Right Now? God! You are such a jerk” she says, not loud enough for me to hear it but loud enough to grab my attention.
“I heard that!”
“Good. Coz I wanted you to!” She yells, walking towards the house and slams the door behind her.
I stand there, staring at the open car door and appreciating a pigeon fidgeting with a dark spot on the windshield. His feathers are messed up. He is probably hungry too, but look at him; he is so calm and beautiful, he is not shouting at me, plus he is not even flying to a different country by himself. Even though he could – free of cost. This pigeon is a star!
Why can’t she be like this? Why does she have to either be an ugly monk or a raging bitchface? Why there is no in between?
And a voice from within, that I am way too familiar with, shoots up to my head and whispers, “stop it! You know it’s you. It’s always you. She’s more of a gentleman than you are. She has the calmness of a bomb squad, you on the other hand, look like you are always in a moshpit of a metal concert, elbowing the person behind you. Screaming, “Hell yeahhh!!!”, or whatever the fuck they yell in moshpits.”
And while I am having a moment with myself, she comes back with some more stuff. She has more luggage labeled as “stuff” than what should be called as “stuff”. And all her “stuff” come with her other “stuff”. Because she buys “stuff” and doesn’t throw them away. Then she buys more stuff to match the “stuff” that she has bought before. So there are twice as many and as much “stuff” with her than there should have been in the first place.
She stands and looks at me for help.
“What?” I shrug.
“What what?” Help me with these, she says, pointing at her “stuff”.
So then, I stuff all her “stuff” with all her other “stuff” in the car. Fuck it! It’s all stuffed now.
“Happy?” I bang shut the door. She frowns.
And we drive away to the airport. She is checking her phone and I am honking at every next person; scooters, bikers, fucking autorickshaws, vegetable vendors. All of them. The Madmax in me is looking to ram this car somewhere. Take it to a desert and destroy it, put it on fire. Cut through a bridge railing and drown it in the sea. Call it a day and die somewhere. I am done.
But since I can’t do all that, I play the FM at a deafening level. She doesn’t say much, gives me the look and turns the volume knob down. So I give her the look now and I turn it back up. She turns it back down. I turn it back up. She turns it back down.
I take a pause. My hands are reaching to turn it back up, but I am also a little scared …
“Staaaaaaaphhhhh it!” She yells.
The rebel in me still wants to turn it up, but what’s the point, really? I don’t like that kind of noise either. It would annoy me more than it would annoy her. So I let it be. But in my head, I haven’t lost this to her. I have lost this to myself. Which is fine, I don’t mind losing to myself.
And then I drive ZIG-ZAG, don’t slow down at speed breakers, break signals, honk occasionally at no one, and also sudden unexpected breaks are my new favorites at this moment.
Next, I switch off the AC at a signal.
“What’s that for?” She says.
“Fine!” She says. Wipes sweat off of her forehead. I check my face in the mirror. My cheeks and ears are burning with the heat and the frustration that I have brought upon myself.
I peek outside the window like a dog. Bark at the traffic. Honk harder. Abuse pedestrians in local language, that I can barely speak.
You see, I don’t usually do these things. I am not “that” guy. But today I have turned into one and at this point, I am also afraid, that if someone abuses me back in the same language, I wouldn’t have a comeback. I would lose the fight and probably get beaten up. Yelling at random no-ones is never a smart thing to do anyway. You don’t know which sidewalk the next Jeffrey Dahmer is walking on.
She sits through all this. Unbuzzed. Fiddles with her phone. Breathes heavily. Stares at me occasionally- with love, anger and pity. I don’t look back. She knows me and knows how I behave in the moments when I don’t know how to behave.
Now we are at the parking lot of the airport, I put her luggage in the cart, roll it up the escalator and turn left at the end of it. She turns right.
“Hello? Where are you going? It’s this way.” I say, pointing at the signboard.
“How do you know how to read a bold signboard, when you don’t know how to read or write bold things? It’s such a paradox.” She giggles.
“Well. Ha Ha” I mock her.
At the entrance, where we stand, her passport is in her left hand with ticket printouts sticking out of it.
“18 months,” she says, sliding her phone in the back-pocket of her jeans.
“18 fucking months, that’s fucking long. Okay? ”I say.
“I know. I know. I know. But don’t put it like that and it will be over before you know. Also we will Skype. Daily. I promise. Okay?”
“Yeah, well that never goes well.” I say, “People die. Haven’t you seen that movie … what’s it called? Befriended or Unfriended … or something like that?”
“Shush … it’s not important and listen it will be fine … trust me. This is not a movie. Although at this point it almost seems like one. But it isn’t. And please don’t make it a sad goodbye.” She stands on her toes and kisses me on my cheek.
“Alright! If you insist.”
“Yes. I do.” She says. “Now smile.” She hugs me. I hug her back, but not like how I usually hug her. “This hug is as cold as her intentions right now.” I tell myself.
“Yeah whatever.” I say, and push her to the entrance, “you are late.”
And she waves back at me and disappears in the mob.
“She is never coming back,” I tell myself. “And if she ever does. She will never be the same. I know this. I have seen enough movies to claim that I exactly know how this will end.”, I keep talking to myself holding a teardrop or two as I walk my way back to the car.
When I open the car-door, a kitty cat from nowhere appears and hugs my leg. So I pick it up and drive him home. Feed him milk or something.
“The animal has found me in these dark times to keep me company” I tell myself, “because, I guess, animals know these things?”