Even though the rickshaw-wallah drove like a nervous 18 yr old at a driving test, we were home before we knew it. I got out first, paid our chauffeur for the evening and thanked him. He reciprocated the gesture. I then held my hand out for her and escorted her to the gate as the rickshaw revved and whizzed away in the background. The evening was progressing wonderfully, but now we were about to enter a land where we would have to watch our steps, lest we be watched. I rummaged through my pockets for my keys as leaned to her ear and carefully explained the next leg of the plan.
“Okay, here’s the deal. We have to be really careful from hereon. My house is in the last wing which means we need to get from Wing 1 to Wing 3 without being noticed. If we go together, the chances of being spotted are multiplied tenfold. There are far too many vantage points. I can name the old man on the 2nd floor in wing 1 & the Secretary’s house in wing 2 just off the top of my head. Try and understand the gravity of the situation. One false move and we’ll be the talk of the town. Therefore we MUST and I say MUST follow what I say? Do you copy?” I said (feeling like an army general).
“Did you just say ‘do you copy’? And what on earth is a vantage point?” she looked at me in bewilderment.
“Ahh mademoiselle, you are far too innocent for this harsh world. Just go round the back while I head from the front gate and open the door for you, okay?”
“Say like that na, idiot!” she knocked me on the head and then she giggled and walked towards the gate that led to the back of the building.
I took a deep breath and charged to my wing. I searched for ‘watching eyes’ as I passed wings 1 and 2. They were either uninterested this evening or hidden too well for me to spot them. I reached my door and opened it making as little noise as possible. I wasn’t going to let a creaky door spoil my careful preparations. I unlocked the door and waited for her to come with bated breath but there wasn’t a sign of her. Half a minute passed, still nothing. I started to get worried again, but I couldn’t go and see what was going on either, that would be too risky. She arrived just as I was about to hit the panic button.
“Nice building”, she said as she casually strolled in.
I shook my head, “By the time this evening is done you’re going to give me a heart attack for sure!”
I carefully closed the door and then turned to her.
“We made it! We got in here without being spotted!” I said ecstatically.
“Not exactly Fort Knox you know?” she said as she warmly hugged me. She could have squeezed every little bit of life out of me there and it would have still felt wonderful.
“You’re going to remember this one for a long time. I can bet my last buck you will.” I beamed with confidence.
“I think you’ve already spent it. And by the way, you can thank me later for saving you the blushes at the bus stop.” she mocked me.
“If someone hadn’t messed up the directions in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to go to the bus stop! How on earth did you manage to lose your way this time?”
“Oh…nothing much, just a little diversion.” she casually said.
“Accha, let’s hear the rest of that”
“Arrey why are you wasting time now? The important thing is I am safe and sound, right?”
“Of course, of course safety first, but I can sense there is an embarrassing story behind that nonchalance of yours.”
“Non-what? Why do you keep confusing me with all these words?”
“Okay then I ask you in layman’s terms. Spill it Missy!”
“But nothing happened….”
“Sure sure….now can we have the truth!”
She paused for a second then sighed and finally gave up. She put on her puppy face and said,
“Promise you won’t laugh?”
“You know I can’t lie to that face! Of course my dearest….I will laugh.”
“No, it’s not fair it wasn’t my fault, it was all because of that stupid dog. I just went to pat it on the head and it just started barking like crazy. I tried to calm it down but it just got louder and louder.”
“There, there strays can get mean.” I consoled her.
“Chee, why’d I play with strays in that dirty gully? It was a nice Pomeranian, you now the furry, gushy-vushy-mushy ones….soo cute!”
“Did you just say, ‘gushy-vushy-mushy’?” I laughed holding my sides.
“Listen na, so I thought it would be nice and harmless, but that started to chase me. So I ran. And all those people on the road, they’re watching the tamasha they didn’t even bother to help!” she complained.
“Stop it! You’re killing me here!” I was falling off my seat.
“You too! Useless! Laugh! Don’t even wait for me to finish the story. You’re not even concerned how I tackled that beast!”
“You mean the gushy-vushy-mushy beast”, I broke out into another fit of laughter.
She was embarrassed thoroughly but couldn’t help laughing either.
“Cartoon!” she said as she whacked me on the head.
“Please finish the rest of the story.” I said trying to regain my breath.
“Well the damn thing was tugging at the end of my pants, I tried to fight it off but its jaws were locked on tightly. I just swung my leg and it went flying into the gutter. It was so funny. I mean, I felt bad for it, but then the evil thing chased me and made a mockery out of me”
“Jeez, why do all the fun things happen when I’m not around?” I laughed hysterically banging my fists on the table.
“Yeah and then a couple of minutes later a guy with a leash comes and asks me. Excuse me, I saw my dog running this way, did you see it? I just pointed in the other direction and scooted from there.”
“You come here!”
We hugged chuckling like in-mates at an asylum.
“For all that trouble you had to go through, I have a great time in store for you.” I said leading her to my room. I switched on the music player. The plan was now coming towards fruition.
“How thoughtful of you to play the Bee Gees instead of all that screaming and yelling you usually listen to!”
“Anything for you, your highness. You just wait here while I serve the main course for the evening.”
I headed to the kitchen and picked up the pre-arranged masterpiece and turned towards my room. I knocked on the door as I entered. The look on her face was what they call ‘priceless’. She sat in amazement as I placed the tray on the table and sat next to her. Talkative as she usually was, she was speechless then.
“You….you didn’t have to go through all of this.” she gathered the words somehow and blushingly said.
“It was all worth the look on your face”, I said handing a cup of tea to her. She gazed into my eyes as she held it. She then rested her head on my shoulder. The words “Perfect Moment” flashed before my eyes. False alarm again I thought being ever the cynic but this time it was really happening. The moment was here…