Chapter 4: ‘Chasing the mermaid’
The yellow-and-black taxi chugged slowly and was stuck in the pool of mud and water splash escalating higher at every second. Vehicles on the road were flowing like paper boats in a directionless manner. The entire city was brought to a standstill for more than three hours.
Mann was tensed, anxious and bored at the same time. The car lumbered, stumbled on the broken road and all of sudden jerked to stand still that provoked a thud noise that splattered his earlobe. A thick fog surfaced to cover the beautiful Mumbai sky. It was raining everywhere. The cloud has lost its sheen and every space turned into dark spots as if some ghosts were wrecking havoc on the city by spitting fire balls and black smoke. The wind roared like wild sirens to conspire with angry foes and the thunder sparks shrieked like angry Goddesses.
The cab driver turned to Mann, “Bhaiya! We don’t have any choice. I am turning off the key. It’s impossible to move and I am very scared. Pray Bhaiya for our well-being. Everything is dark.” The man quivered and fidgeted with the car’s key. Mann nodded. Sejal occupied his thoughts and wondered whether she is stuck somewhere in the city. At that point of time, he didn’t mind her making out with a female friend or having sex with a random guy in a house or hotel, surrounded by a bonfire. As long as she is safe…he will turn a blind eye to extremities or human frailties that accompany the human mind and the quest for sensual adventure.
He was trapped in the myriad thoughts. Suddenly, he felt something sharp inside his heavy back pack that hurt his knee. He unzipped the bag and his hand flew inside to reach a dead-end at something thick that he removed. A pink wallet was snuggled inside the comfort of his bag. Mann was bemused, ‘How the fuck this pink wallet entered my bag?’
Mann pressed the button and the wallet flipped open. It contained a letter written by Sejal in bold, ‘You know where to find me.’
“If I go missing one day, don’t freak and become dukkhi like some jilted lover. Remember Devdas. It’s so passé. Mom will call you and blow her top. It’s her normal best. Excitement is me. Clue No 1, remember our conversation during sex. I love to mumble during the act like a flattened parantha. I disappear out of the blue. Thunder, rain and monsoon excite me to no end. I am a mermaid.”
Mann was amused. A feeble smile enlarged his jaw. He couldn’t help stop the frantic heart beat. His mind was stuck on the letter but at the same time was fighting demons like the ferocious rain spreading its might like arrows speckled on the car. The brain has stopped functioning. His eyes were glued to the letter that he caressed with his hand.
“Hey! Wondering what I am blabbering right now. Babe! Time for clue no. 2: You love girls who stand in the middle of the rain and getting drenched from top-to-toe? Sounds sexy and revealing when they wear everything white? The water makes the skin translucent. Gives you an orgasm…in your head. Stop being hard and stiff inside, you pervert. Imagine the rain sending the whole of a Mumbai in a tail spin and folks running for their life. See! Sirjee, I am Jhansi ki Rani and love to flirt not with men but danger. I love caressing the rain and the violent tree branches falling on my face feels like sensual love and lip smacking sensation. I ain’t crazy. It’s just a shade of me that you never knew till now. Slow baby! Dheere dheere, you are approaching my location and no, cabs are not GPS enabled. You gotta do some hard work to find me. You will be handsomely rewarded with a sprinkle of wet kiss and loaded sex for a full week. Wrack your brain.’
Mann almost cursed in frustration. “First, the cab is not even moving and she is telling me that I am coming closer to her. Where the fuck do I find her? She lost it. I could be sleeping on my bed, wrapping myself under a thick blanket. But, no, I am out looking for her in the rain. I am the one who is mad. I am shivering. But, for whom! But, Madam doesn’t care. Right now, I don’t mind watching those ugly Ekta Kapoor soap operas that serves as a good substitute for porn.”
The letter was long like a scholarly dissertation and his eyes bore shades of tiredness. “Now, should I tell that guys like you are fascinated by Mumbai locals and railway station that you like to explore as if it’s some playboy hub! Stop guessing, baby. The clue lies within. Follow the heart. Heard the classic and oft-repeated ritual? Dhudne pe bhi bhagwaan milta hai. It’s not like I am some fucking bhagwaan but well, Run Lola Run.”
Mann was tired and felt his legs numb. He wanted to sleep in the backseat but ended up chasing the flies hovering above his head. Suddenly, the cars started to move and Mann felt a dash of hope. He read the letter all over again. It was unbelievable. Something was brewing in his head. He had an inkling where Sejal was. A triumphant smile surfaced on his smile. “Pagal ladki,” he muttered.
Tring!!! Sejal’s Mom was calling. He picked it up, ‘Hello aunty.’ The person at the other end was worried and her voice broke, “Where are you beta? I am sitting inside my car and not able to get past my gate because of the rain and water flooding.” Mann spoke in a calm and hushed tone, “Don’t worry aunty. I think that I know where she is…saw a letter filled with clues. It’s almost impossible to get out of the city. But, we will find her.”
Sejal’s Mom broke into tears. “Beta, can you come to Churchgate. We will go together to find her in my car. My driver will take us.”
“Theek aunty. Hope the cab beats the traffic. I am coming,” Mann tried to calm her. He ordered the cab driver, “Bhaiya, please take a u-turn, speed and avoid potholes and flooded areas if possible. Churchgate.”
The driver nodded. The car screeched its way at a hurtling speed and in the flick of 10 minutes, it was speeding on the highway. Mann couldn’t believe that an Ambassador car can be so fast and furious. The driver sensed that something was wrong.