It was during the third week of my intern, somewhere in the first week of June. It had been raining since three days and since I forgot taking my umbrella, I was having a really difficult time. Though getting wet in rain didn’t bother me, it was the chemicals in the complex that made me worried. I had a slight itching sensation right after I got wet in the first rain. That brought me to my senses and made me give up the idea of getting wet in rains there. After coming back from office, Kaka and I decided to go out to buy umbrellas. We had already inquired at a shop nearby but it didn’t have much varieties. All that the old shopkeeper had was a very big umbrella which he kept insisting that we should buy as it is very useful.
It started to rain slowly by the time we started. We walked to the main road and got into an auto going to Athwalines. We inquired the auto driver about umbrellas and he started narrating all the places where we can get umbrellas. He told us that we will not get them at Athwalines and promised to take us to a shop in Park Street where we could get them at affordable prices. We told him that we had no idea whatsoever of the place and he told that he would drop us back at Mysore café where we were planning to have our dinner.
He took us to a shop, talked to the shop keeper and helped us buy two umbrellas and dropped us back at Mysore café, all for thirty rupees and we were lost in admiration of auto drivers of Surat. We talked about the auto drivers of Chennai and the exorbitant fares they demand. Finally we were at Mysore café for the first time. It was half past nine and the place was relatively empty.
The hotel looked like just another traditional hotel from south India. The white washed walls, narrow and small rooms. A photo of goddess Lakshmi with a small oil lamp lit before in a rack just above the proprietor’s desk, gave it a southy touch.
We sat there relishing the plain dosa and talking to each other about our likes and dislikes and various eatables. It was a small room, just after entering the hotel. There was another room with a board “Families only” inside. I was sitting facing the door of that “families only” room. Once or twice I turned around to look for the waiter and I felt that some one was watching me. At first I couldn’t make out who it was, but my eyes started searching even while talking to Kaka.
It was then I found her looking at me. I was not sure at first, and felt uncomfortable. I looked away and kept on talking. After a few minutes, I felt like looking back and make sure if she was still looking at me. I turned and my eyes met her eyes, still looking at me. That sent a small chill down my spine. I was never used to girls looking at me. After all mine was just an average face and I looked like any other guy. And I even gave up putting my trademark “Namam” in Gujarat owing to the communal sensitivity of the place. Hence there should have been nothing that differentiated me from the rest. The discovery that there was a girl staring at me made me uncomfortable.
The only other and the first time this ever happened was in Chennai, right in front of the gates of my college. That was a very long time back. I don’t remember the date exactly. It was around 11o clock on some Saturday morning, and I was returning to my college back from Hotchips with a cup of coffee in my hand. Then I noticed a girl, a pillion rider of her father’s scooter, looking at me. They were coming down the flyover in the opposite direction and I spotted her looking at me. The scooter moved past, but she still kept looking at me. After the scooter crossed me and moved past well behind me, I turned back to see if she was still looking. In fact I found her still “looking”. That brought a smile onto my lips and I told my self “Parledu raa, ninnu choosey valloo unnaru.” [Don’t worry man; there are girls who look even at you.]
And then this girl, sitting beside her parents and boldly looking at me! After I saw that she was still looking at me, I kept glancing at her, making some incoherent talk, to which Kaka was attentively listening. A moment later, I gathered enough courage to lock my eyes with hers and I stared hard in her face. To my surprise, she didn’t turn her face away. She kept looking at me, into my face and I could take it no longer. I turned away, finished my eating and started to leave. I gave a final glance, looked at her and wanted to say a “good bye” with my eyes. To my disappointment her father was talking to her and she was listening. I had an impulsive feeling to and speak to her, but I didn’t dare to. And soon we left the place and were back to our apartments.
In my room, I sat thinking of her. She had a good looking face and I am not the sort to assess other things. Her nose was thin and looked properly set in between two sharp eyes. Her fair complexion contrasted well with the burkha she was wearing. And I tried hard to memorize her face, pixel by pixel. She boosted my self confidence and the sense of pride which, I am sure would by the common feeling for anyone after such an experience. After that I lost the sense of shyness and started feeling great.
I remember her face, and will remember it forever. The face of a fairy that brought joy to my life and made me feel good. I want to meet this girl too. If I meet her again [hope she is reading this], I will only tell her one thing……
“Thank you, madam. You made me feel great.”