I was at this 3 star hotel, to meet a couple of friends who were there to attend a wedding. At the hotel reception, when I was sure nobody was looking, I grabbed two fistfuls of individually wrapped candy (toffee) from a very pretty little basket, and stuffed them into my jacket pockets. As luck would have it, this girl R at the reception noticed this escapade (she was beautiful, and ignore how I know her name). I saw her seeing me, and I also saw her making a "stuck up" or "screwed up" face, ostensibly as a reaction to my toffee grabbing antic. At that time I just ignored her, and hoped that she did likewise.

I parked the bike at the hotel, rode with my friends to the airport, saw them off, and had myself dropped back at the hotel to pick up the bike. It was about 8pm. Without giving it much thought, I walked back to the reception, and asked R if she would take a break for a couple of minutes and come outside. To my surprise, she obliged. I asked her to follow me, and we strolled to the rear of the hotel, towards the motorcycle parking.

It was dark and the bike parking lot was quite unforgiving. It felt like the hotel didn’t respect bikers. But that wasn't why we were going there. I didn't say anything, we just kept walking.

The hotel was undergoing expansion, and construction workers were living in makeshift huts, right next to the bike parking lot. There, I found the same group of little children whom I had seen playing, when I had parked my bike earlier in the day. I called out to the children. Within seconds, half dozen boisterous kids had surrounded R and me. I took out the toffees from my jacket pockets and gave them to R, and asked her to give them to the kids. She looked surprised at first, and then smiled. The kids had their happy moments, screaming and scampering all over the place. Then one of them stood there with a hand stretched out, still in wait for a toffee. R didn't have any more, and she said "not enough". I responded with "there's never enough."

After the children had dispersed, R stood staring at me, and asked: "So what’s the point?" What’s the point! Geez! I said: "No point. I noticed your stuck up face when I picked up the toffees, I wanted to put things in perspective." She smiled (really!) and started walking away. Made me feel good.

I stood there looking at her walk back to the hotel. When she was about 10 feet away, she stopped. Justifiably, I found myself holding my breath. She turned around and said "For your information, on weekends, I work with an NGO and teach in a school." First, my heart sank to my stomach. Right there. Then I was dumbstruck, unable to say a word. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. She works in an NGO and I'm trying to impress her like I'm Robinhood. What a loser!

Without waiting for a response, she turned around and started to walk again. Life returned to me when she had walked another 10 feet, and I screamed out to her: "What else do you do on weekends?"

She didn't stop. She just walked, and walked, till I could see her no more. And I stood, surrounded by darkness, my mind screaming to run after her, but my feet simply unwilling to move. When the sounds of the children reached my ears again, normalness returned, and I suddenly felt, like I had won, after all.

Mayur Poddar

No comments: