Geet flipped a cigarette from the fresh pack and lit with curled smoke blowing into ringlets disappearing with the wind billowed past the half arc surrounding the seas. She took a drag and intensely admired the sea breeze at Marine Drive, standing alone on the parapet, wondering on the last couple of days. She gave Hardik cold stares for almost a week and secretly wished that he would leave dejectedly for Pune. Both of them were missing college. The strategy backfired and compelled Hardik to stay back in Mumbai. He was hell-bent on wooing her.
The phone beeped. It was Hardik Whatsapping, “Reaching in another 30 minutes. I am inside the train.” He cajoled her back into speaking to him. She was confused about him, one moment drew to him and the next, there were no emotions left in her heart. Geet could be cold as the ice cube difficult to break. He is a good guy and ready to leave all everything, doing the run around for me, she took another drag.
Hardik walked at a fast pace and suddenly dashed in her direction. He was panting for breath and hugged her forcefully. “Water,” she asked. “Hmm,” his voice broke. “I want water to drink and sitting in this heat, waiting for you. She snatched his bag and pulled open the water bottle. She gulped the liquid down the throat. He wondered, “Here I am breathless and running all the way to catch the bus and train at Andheri to Churchgate. She didn’t see that I am craving to be in her company and instead, of offering me, she quenched her thirst.”
Geet asked unfazed, “Have some. You must be thirsty.” He slowly twisted the bottle open and spilled the drop inside the throat. He could breathe and enjoyed the cold liquid flowing down the throat. Hardik was oblivious that she was doing everything on purpose and to appear ruthless but deep down she cared for him.
“Are we going back to Pune,” she asked.
It felt something hitting him on the head. “What? Weren’t you supposed to be in Mumbai for a long time?
“Hello! It was meant to be two days trip and you followed me all the way, complicating matters. We ended up staying for two weeks. I think it’s now time to go back and because of you, I missed all the important lectures. Dude, we are screwed.”
“Taxi,” she shouted. The black-and-yellow cab slowed down and she dragged him inside the car. The vehicle slowly moved away from Marine Drive and ambled towards Chowpatty, taking a left turn near Wilson College. In no time, they reached Kemps corner.
“I don’t have any clothes and not even a bag with me. Just a wallet for the cab and train ticket! Are you always like that, Geet,” he protested?
“Stop whining. It’s not that you are a beggar and you live in an apartment with all your stuff in Pune. Who told you to follow me all the way to Mumbai and inside the taxi,” she was nonchalant.
“But,” he wailed.
She asked the cab driver, “Bhaiya aur kitna time lagega Dadar paunchne ke liye (How long it will take in reaching Dadar)?” The driver said, “Aagey bohot traffic hoga madam and ek ghanta lagega. (There is lots of traffic ahead and we will reach in another hour).” Geet turned towards him and faces cupped to each other, “See, we still have time and one hour. That’s a lot, dude.”
“What do you want to do?” he playfully says.
“Stop your bull crap. I just want to know how on earth you got the keys into Maasi’s flat. You would be in jail by now. Don’t raise your hands. I want an answer.” He averted her gaze and there was no way he would let her in the loop.
“I am waiting Hardik,” she sounded like a school teacher.
He innocently says, “Where are you stretching this whole thing? Ok! I am sorry and shouldn’t have taken you to someone’s house who turned out to be your Maasi. We ran away from the cops. I escaped pandu like mad aimlessly to land inside the housing society. Found the key under the flower pots.” Hardik realized that he spilled more than he wanted to her.
She concatenated into laughter, “What, you were chased by the cops. Sorry, sorry?” she apologized for the laugh. He felt silly. “Go on,” she simpered. “Tell the story. And, I thought you were banging some Tinder chick and took her there.”
“I’ve been telling you that you are jealous, thinking am scoring some chicks on Tinder,” he told.
“I knew that bastard,” she smiled.
“Hello! How I wish to be that lucky,” he told.
“Stop nurturing hopes. At least be thankful that I am the only one without being your girl. You just carry a condom pack with hopes. And, I didn’t mean you are scoring,” she laughed.
He protested. “OK! Sorry dude. Are you a thief?”, she was apologetic.
“No,” he was incensed.
“A closet gay doubling as a pimp. Wait you must be into the mafia and Dawood man in India,” she pulled him uninterruptedly.
He almost fainted, “Oh! No.”
Geet cajoled him, “Ok sorry. You better tell me who chased whom and I hope not a skirt but khaki after you. I am dying to know if the danda (stick) entered your ass. I will check later if you don’t tell me the story.”
“Shut up bitch and listen,” Hardik punched.
“Yes, bastard, go on,” she egged on him.
“Arre that night, I met a couple of friends. It was raining and almost midnight when we were boozing at Gokul, ordering Old Monk. We were in the mood but they decided to close earlier, fearing a raid.”
She asked, “So, they caught you guys?”
“Nopes. We bought two extra bottles. We took the cab to Central and got down to spot a row of apartments on the main road. We decided to hide near the huge trees sprawling near the gates of apartments and were boozing when a police jeep stopped. Dude, you cannot imagine how much I ran that day and leaving my friends who went in different directions. I ran aimlessly past a gate and plodded the stairs. I felt that I would die. The cops were on our heels. The corridor was empty and felt ghostly when my leg accidentally kicked the flower pot. I saw a shining metal. It was the key to the apartment.”
She listened to him in the car as if reading a novel or watching a Netflix movie. “And, you entered inside?” she was keen to know
“Obviously. It was do or die. A miracle escape. I overheard the cops heels outside with a torch and was relieved when they said to each other, “Saala, gandu log. Let’s go and they went off.”
“This was the only apartment you ever found to hide your ass from the cops. Look at your dare and guts man. You took me there. We ended up having the most heated sex and not for once, did I realize it was Maasi’s apartment? So shameless. What if Mom had a duplicate key and saw us naked,” Geet felt a chill.
“I don’t know, babe. What would we do? And, you are no less,” he reproached.
“Oh! Mr is so innocent and took his girlfriend…not girlfriend but a chick out there,” she corrected herself. Geet repeated, “No girlfriend. It was a slip of tongue and you better get that. What were you saying that I am no less?”
“You crazy woman. When aunty was at the door, you dragged me inside the room and pushed me out of the window. I was hanging out there, wearing jeans without underwear. It hurt like hell. You made me hang in the air and my hands held on to the cement pole for my life. Are you obsessed with vertigo or what? Is this your idea of BDSM.
Geet was laughing so much and her stomach hurt. “Wait! Wait! Wait! Where are the keys? The papers?” He was confused, “Which papers?”
“Arre screw that. The affidavit and we must have left it there. Also, we had a duplicate key! I think Mom misplaced it. Wait, she must have left it inside the apartment. Let’s go back,” Geet was shouting.
“What is wrong with you,” he was at a loss of words.
“Fuck you,” Geeta shut him. “Bhaiya, gaadi ko ghumao (Turn the car), Mumbai Central. Double paisa doongi ( I will pay double).”