|Pic Credit: Pngtree|
The incessant honks are really bothering me and I cannot focus. Why does Rishi have to live in this godforsaken part of town? Couldn’t he have chosen a quieter suburb with emptier roads? All around me, vehicles whoosh by, the sounds getting on my nerves. Now someone has started yelling. Gosh it’s a lady. Screaming at the top of her voice. Someone must have pissed her off real bad. My sympathies with the poor sucker, I chuckle. The yelling is closer now, to my right, real close. I peek a look in that direction, and I see her. Well, I see her finger first – waddling in the air, making animated gestures and then I see the rest of her. Her face is red as a beet, her voice growing hoarse as she throws around curses that would embarrass even the most notorious of my gang. I look to my left to figure out who she’s yelling at, there’s no one. But the finger continues to waddle and now she’s waving to pull over. Gasp, she’s yelling at me? A pothole jerks me off my seat and I struggle to achieve balance. The screaming continues.
I force myself to look ahead. I am not good at multi-tasking. I am trying to ride this 100+ kilo two-wheeler with one hand, while I try to maneuver Google maps through the other. Juggling the bag of clothes between my feet is not even being counted here. Damn you Rishi! And now this crazy female wants me to listen to her rant! A man cannot even ride his machine in peace.
Suddenly she cuts me off, with absolutely no notice whatsoever, forcing me to pull over. Women riders, I curse. Let’s get this over with once and for all. I swerve a bit, slow down and then come to a stop. I watch her park and walk towards me.
“Why you using your phone while riding? You ain’t even got a helmet!” She barks at me.
“Take my bike number. Complain to the cops. Anything else?” I retort, very matter-of-factly.
She’s quiet. I think I have made my point. I rev up the engine.
“I lost my brother to that.” She says, quiet then.
You can’t argue with that. Not without looking like an inconsiderate asshole. And haughty girl or not, it does not seem right.
“I am sorry.” I say softly and turn off the bike.
“Why are you riding like this?” She asks softly. I look at her then. She’s quiet, waiting for a response.
“I am trying to find my friend’s place. Stupid highway, can’t ask anyone either.” I say.
“Hmm. What about that? What’s that?” She asks, pointing to the bag now toppled over to one side.
Odd question, I think. How does it matter?
“Yes.” I reply.
She raises her eyebrows, pointing at the bag.
“Jackets. Track pants. What’s it to you?” I say, flippant.
She’s silent now, looking into the distance. Seconds tick by.
“Put them on.” She says, pointing to the bag.
“What? No way. It’s freaking hot!” I counter.
“Put them on.” She says firmly.
“No. Why don’t you just get on your way?” I almost shoo her away.
She’s silent then, possibly conceding defeat. What girl would want to pick a fight with a stranger?
“Where are you trying to get to?” She asks softly. Harmless question.
“Kajaria Vihar. Tell me how to get to it and I’ll be on my way.” I start the bike again.
“Gimme your phone, I’ll key in a shorter route. Two-wheelers can go easily,” she says.
I look her over. She’s decently dressed, not a robber. How far could she run with it anyway? Especially with my bike still revving. Unsuspecting fool that I am, I hand it over. Unfortunately, running away with it was never part of her plan.
“Put them on, or I throw this right into the highway.” She threatens, her hand raised to throw my lifeline right into oncoming traffic. I see the glint of madness in her eyes and I know she is capable of executing her threat. Vehicles speed by and my phone, my dear iPhone 8, will get crushed under these overloaded trucks. Stress tests and everything aside, am I really willing to risk it?
“You are a crazy woman!” I yell.
“That I am! Now put them on!” She yells right back.
Grudgingly, I pull out the jackets one by one. I am now wearing four layers of clothes.
“Tracks too. Hurry up!” She says, pointing the phone at me as if she were pointing a gun.
I pull them on. I am already sweating profusely but the psycho isn’t done yet.
“Move” she commands. I do, obedient all of a sudden. Who knew that a threat to my beloved phone could make me so meek? She pulls off her hairband letting her hair loose and looks at me. She’s beautiful. And I am confused.
But the psycho is clearly up to something. She pulls the band around the handlebar and fits the phone right in. It sits tightly there, snug against the leather.
“There. Off you go now.” She says, looking at me with a sense of pride.
My heart jumps to my mouth, what if it falls? She notices the expression on my face and does an exasperated eye roll. I am sure it says, Men!
She takes the plastic bag, now empty of clothes it held, and slipping it through the handlebar, fits it right under the phone. I smile. My phone is safe; even if it falls it would fall right in. She’s okay, I think.
“For the record, I ain’t promoting phone usage while riding. But it’ll work for tonight,” she says.
I look down sheepishly and mumble an incoherent apology.
“Take the next bridge and then the first right. Go straight till the dead end. Kajaria Vihar will be on your right.” She says, walking back to her bike.
“Hey! If you knew the directions all along, why not just tell me? Why make me wear all this?” I ask.
She giggles. “Coz it was fun knowing I could! Besides it’s funny seeing the lengths people go for their phones!” She laughs as she dons her helmet.
“Thanks.” I yell out, impish now.
She looks at me then, the far-away-into-the-distance look clouding her face again.
“No. Thank you!” She yells back. And then she’s gone.
That night, Jugaad Inc. is born.