22 October 2005

Sweet October

As the traffic light turned red, two auto rickshaws pulled up next to each other. And sitting in one of them, I could only see a pair of hands holding a bouquet of red roses in the other auto. They were the sort of hands that unleashed a desire to discover the face. But their delicate geography offered clues to the owner's history.

A diamond ring clinging possessively to one of the fingers meant they were reasonably rich hands. And those flamboyant roses further testified that. Those hands were born to enjoy the comforts of an air-conditioned car. What were they doing in a rundown three-wheeler getting mauled by the city's savage heat?

With every passing second, a yearning to see the owner of those tender, touch-me-not hands grew inside me like a giant bubble. The woman's concealed face was teasing and tormenting him. I would have liked the driver to steer the vehicle a little ahead. But that wasn't possible.

The auto was inches behind an Opel Astra. In desperation, I even wanted to get down, walk a few paces and steal a shameless glance or two in between. But I couldn't. I also considered asking the driver, positioned at a far more vantage point, if he could tell him how the passenger sitting in the other auto looked like.

But I was aware that wouldn't be of much help either. I knew that every narrative between two individuals was marked by an absence, a void no word could ever fill. By this time, the bubble was almost choking me. I felt at war with myself.

In the past, I had always stayed clear from every crooked line for the tried and tested path of the predictable. And, had always stifled every reckless urge and allowed moments with infinite possibilities slip away like water running through fingers.

With only 10 seconds left before the light turned green, I could hear a chorus of violent voices inside commanding me to seize the moment. It was now or never. So I got down, walked to the flanking auto, looked inside and said, "Excuse me, do you have the time?"