I was supposed to meet Kabir at the theater at 11am. Over the past few weeks, we had developed quite an affinity and affection towards each other. I had not expected this twist, but I must say, it is a welcome twist.
Over time, Kabir had started to come earlier than his reporting time. I started to stay back even after I finished my work so that our timelines matched. So when he asked me to join him for a movie and dinner, I did not hesitate to say yes.
I got up early and spent the whole morning trying dresses, applying different face packs, waxing, cleaning and polishing myself. It was not technically a date but it sure felt like one. Or it would decide whether we went out again for a date or not. We saw each other most of the days, but never for more than 15 minutes. Today, we were about to test our tolerance for each other. It was indeed a critical day.
But I was in for a surprise. We both were not the only ones in the plan. When I reached the theater I saw a whole group of lively and boisterous guys and girls waiting for me. He did not mention it before. I did not ask him if it was a sudden change in the plan either. He was totally cool with the group. Then why shouldn’t I be. I felt silly embarrassed to anticipate that we would be alone for the major part of then day. But a not-so-tiny part of me was relieved that we both were not going to be alone.
But it was a blast. Such a good day among such warm friends. I easily fit into their conversations, made jokes and was laughed at too. There was so much of laughter that my stomach hurt and eyes watered. What did we laugh about I do not know. It was just the mood, an infectious happiness that was hard to resist.
It was one of those days where you could sit through a terrible and horrible movie and still enjoy it. The right company could make anything miserable into a magic pot of never ending jokes. How time went from watching the movie to the walk to the nearby restaurant and how dinner got over in-between stealing and sharing food from all the plates and dishes on the table, I don’t know.
But at the end of the day, I felt totally sated. I was high and happy and light headed. I could not stop laughing.
“Kabir, Thank you for inviting me. It was such a wonderful day. I haven’t laughed like this in ages.”
“Ohh yeah?! I am glad you came. I was not really sure you’d come. I thought you’ll chicken out in the last moment.”
I just smiled. The thought did cross my mind but I had decided to be polite and come. I was really glad that I did not cancel the outing. We all said goodbyes for a good 20 minutes, more pictures were taken, an outline for the next outing was laid and everyone screamed their good nights and finally left.
I was riding with Kabir on his bike, enjoying the chill night breeze and looking up at the stars, when he stopped the bike all of sudden. An open jeep was parked on the other side of the road and few men from that were waving at Kabir. I recognized a few faces, they were from office. Kabir turned and bike and went over to stop parallel to the jeep.
It was only then I saw the leader of the gang. My Hero. Dressed completely rough and ready for the kill. Big boots. Bands on his hand. Black tshirt. He was sitting in the driver seat and looking at me with predator eyes, his expressions accusing me. Of what? I turned my face away. I could not look at him. I was scared. Was he the Hero? Or Villian? Kabir was leaning forward and chatting away with few other guys. But he must have sensed my discomfort. He leaned back and turned to me and said, “Give me two minutes. We’ll leave soon.”
He was still looking at me. But I did not turn. His looks felt dirty. He seemed violent, dangerous. I felt cold. He gave me goosebumps. I felt hunted. What did he think of me? Was he the same person I wanted to know more? What did I know of him? Was it all my colourful imagination?
“Are you ready?” Kabir’s voice broke into my trance like thoughts.
I clutched harder on his shoulders, “Yes. Please. Take me home.”
As we rode away into the night, I could feel his eyes penetrate deeper, through my jacket and tshirt and pierce my skin. I wanted to go home.
How I dread going to office tomorrow.