“This is what I meant when I said this trip is going to be beautiful, Alex.” said Alisha, looking at the scenes from outside the car window. Considering the resistance I had shown to her wish for this trip, I kept mum and continued focusing on driving.
“Just look at the setting sun at the horizon. The lush green farms seem willing to have the sun in their arms. I think they want the sun to sleep in their lap for the night.” she continued in poetic flow.
Bombay theme playing mildly in the car stereo was adding to her smile and composure. On the way back home, now I was wondering why I was not initially in agreement with the marvelous proposal of coming on this one day road trip through a beautiful highway with my even more beautiful wife; especially when she is carrying my baby in her womb and her happiness matters to me the most than ever.
I couldn’t help but turn to look at her mildly smiling face. With one of her palm on our baby-in-the-making and the other busy placing her hair behind her ear to continue the view, she looked utterly adorable.
“I do not think we would ever be able to see and feel such a view in our city life, do you? I think we should build a farm house and settle here. What do you say?” she queried while continuing looking outside.
“Hmm…” I said without being able to resist a smile. I love it when her impractically dreamy face surfaces with a hint of innocence.
“What hmm?” she turned to me rearranging her hair and expecting me to elaborate on her idea of the farm house where the only option I had for living was, farming.
“We need to stop for fuel.” I said to change topic.
“Shall I change the song? Where is the Indian Ocean CD?” she asked as she opened the CD case and started her hunt for her favorite track Kandisa.
Sometimes her questions do not seek answers; I like it then.
Seeing the gas station, I pulled over.
Kandisa Alahaye, Kandisa Esana… penetrated my ears as I paid for the fuel, suggesting Alisha was through her hunt successfully.
It started getting murky outside as we got back on track. Sun had almost slept. It is more difficult to drive at twilight compared to entire dark.
Certainty is a catalyst for peace of mind.
Aalam Balam Aalam…Aa me hmmmm uuummm aaa yeeee she murmured in her unique way of enjoying music.
To appreciate her efforts to match the lyrics of an Aramaic song, I Just put my hand on top of her head with a couple of gentle taps.
“What?” she asked without even bothering to look at me.
“Nothing” I smiled. I could feel there is really a child in her, not just literally, as she continued her battle to match the accurate lyrics of the song. I focused back to driving as I accelerated enjoying Alisha’s struggle, of which even she was completely unaware.
“Alex!!!” and a tight fist grip, nails included, felt on my forearm as I accelerated approaching 120kmph.
Brakes in a married man’s car are installed on the non driving front seats, which are auto operated by inputs from the speedometer’s visual readings. Out of no choices, I chose to settle down to 80.
A relaxed Alisha turned and got back to her breeze and hazy scenery with the same cute smile. With a periodic gaze at the speedometer from the corner of my eye, I focused on maintaining 80.
‘Ma rewa.. tharo paani nirmal… khal khal behto jaaye re..’ the track that brought smile to my face and peace to my mind, began. I turned to the stereo for a moment to increase volume.
“Alexxxx………Watch out!!!” Alisha screamed at the highest decibel.
My vision panned to the highway in a split second. I could vaguely sense some random movement on the road. Before I could realize, my foot was glued to the fully pressed brake paddle without even consulting my brain.
A second later, I could feel the safety belt tightly pressed against my chest and waist.
Silence was all I could feel that moment except, I could hear my blasting heartbeats. However I had skipped at least a couple of them in last three seconds. I immediately turned to Alisha and my hand promptly went to her belly, which was safe between the seat belt stripes. She was frightened, sweating, tightly closed eyed; but more importantly, safe. Long live seat belt inventor!
“Alisha… Relax. It’s Ok. Open your eyes. We are all right. Relax sweetheart.” I said trying to recompose her. My gentle tap on her cheek aided her open the eyes. I offered her a sip of water which helped her getting back to her regular self.
Those ten seconds felt like eternity. I do not understand Einstein’s theory of relativity but I think this would pretty much be an illustration of that.
Once rearranged, we focused our eyes back to the road. Something, that was little, dark and four legged, was running around here and there. I got to believe that it was as horrified as we were a few moments back.
“What’s that?” Alisha asked.
“I don’t know.” It was too little to be identified from there, even in focus of headlights.
“Go and check.” She said pushing me on shoulder.
I looked at her as if she was pushing me into a bullfight. Curiosity is good to the extent where it either benefits you or it at least does not hurt you. Here, I was not sure about either.
I safely got the car to the parking lane and turned parking lights on.
A little hesitant, I stepped out of the car. Once out of the focus of the car’s light, the little creature looked even more mysterious. I looked here and there for a bit to see if any car was on the way. But I could just find a long empty wide highway on either side. I tried to step closer to it. I stopped and looked back. Alisha was eagerly waiting to see the result of the experiment she had conducted through me.
‘Go…’ I could read her lips which were perfectly positioned making a big O. Her expressions were curious as a baby’s.
When you are uncertain of what you are getting into, you run out of self motivation. I could not figure out why we need to do this? Why can’t we just go home? Even the biggest elephants can’t scare you so far as you know that it is an elephant. But even the tiniest unidentified mortal can scare the hell out of you.
Again, certainty is a catalyst for peace of mind.
Nonetheless, slowly but steadily, I continued moving towards my ‘mystifying goal’.
As I moved closer, I could sense the little thing was getting more and more scared and it stopped moving eventually. It preferred sitting on the floor with its body as closely folded as possible. This gave me confidence to move further closer to it, which helped the cause big time.
“It’s a puppy.” I shouted as proudly as probably Columbus would have said ‘It’s India’ when he thought he discovered India. The only difference being, when I said ‘It’s a puppy’ it was really a puppy.
“What??!! Wow…” Alisha jumped out of the car with sparkles in her eyes.
Even though her extreme and selfless love for dogs was well known to me, I found her reaction somewhat superfluous. Or was this my repulsion to animals talking?
“It is a puppy, Alex.” She said as she came closer. Her smile was bigger than the puppy itself.
“I know.” I tried to normalize her excitement. I failed.
“Awww…He is so cute!”
‘He??’ I could not see even the puppy as a whole clearly, how did she manage to conclude this was a he?
“This is not a safe place for him. Can you please help me take him to the side of the road?”
“Me???” I asked and waited for nothing.
Knowing the disgust I had for animals, Alisha chose to do it herself.
“Careful.” I said. Apparently she had forgotten about being six months pregnant ever since she had popped out of the car.
In spite of puppy’s resistance, Alisha managed to pick him up. Yes, by now she had managed to mark the puppy as a he in my mind.
“Come here. There would be cars rushing in.” I said as I took her to the parking lane.
“He is so innocent. No?” She questioned me to which she had already answered.
“He?” I publicized my thought this time. “How are you so sure that it is a guy?”
With a ruthless stare, she presented necessary proof and got back to cuddle mode with the gentleman.
A wife is an exceptionally dangerous character when she has her facts right. And the worse is, she knows it!
“Can we go now please?” I requested as a car speedily passed by.
To my dislike, the puppy had got comfortable with his savior by now and vice versa.
“Alisha, shall we leave?” I tried again and failed to get a response. It is funny sometimes how priorities change.
“Come on Alisha. Let’s go.” I said, tone little stronger this time and I turned to the car.
“What? How can we leave like this? What about this little one? Where will he go? What if we leave and some car crushes him like we almost did?” She asked.
Baffled by the flurry of questions I could not understand how to respond.
After a breather she continued, “I cannot leave him here like this Alex. I just can’t.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Do you think he will survive on this highway even this night?” she said looking at the puppy with pity.
“So let us stay here the whole night. Ok?” I responded sarcastically annoyed.
“I did not say that.”
“Then what do you want to do Alisha?”
“Mmm… I was just thinking… Why can’t we take him with us?” Hesitantly, she presented her point.
“What? Are you crazy?” I exploded. “You know how sick I am of animals. Still you want to carry this? Put my disgust apart, how can you just collect random animals along the way on a trip?” I knew pregnant women act weird sometimes but this weird?
“Alex, please. Just imagine how would you feel if you get to know this little puppy was crushed under a car at this very place? We will just take him to the city and drop him at a place where he can stay safe.”
Her pretty and sympathizing face helped her motive. Deeper inside my irritation I could relate to her. That was not at all a safe place for him. A couple of cars zoomed by to vote in favor of Alisha’s proposal.
“Ok.” I said.
“Thank you…Thanks so much.” satisfied on being a thorough savior, she relaxed and imitated hugging me. I preferred that. It would have been difficult for her and uncomfortable for me to hug with a puppy in her arm.
“We will drop him as soon as we find a safe place for him.” I confirmed.
“Ok.” She agreed.
On the way back home my eyes kept hunting for the ‘safe’ place for the guest.
The happiness she had gathered in last fifteen minutes must have thrilled our baby inside too, I was sure and happy.