Actually he is not a stranger. Means, I saw him every day, sometimes greet each other good morning once in a while in office. He is working in supply chain department and just had small chat with him regarding his documents as I am working in HR department.
Today is Saturday (my Favorite day) as I don’t have to work tomorrow. Yes we got only Sunday as weekend as I am working in a manufacturing company. This week was full of stress. My boss was behind me for some useless work which I not able to understand why we need to do it in first place. My personal life is also taking on toll as I am getting married to man of my choice. So co-coordinating with both families, fiancé is become sometimes very tiring.
So tonight I decided to take break from everybody and looking forward to spend some quality time with myself. I had heard about Nariman point a lot. Never visited that place although it is very near to my office. So I decided to go there by walk. While I was walking on road alone, someone called my name from behind. When I looked back, surprised, he was there on his bike.
“Do you want lift?”
It took me one minute to realize what he is asking as I am so engrossed into my thoughts.
“No, Thanks. I am just going to Nariman point. It’s nearby.”
“I am going there too. Hop on” he said and immediately cleaned his back seat with a cloth.
I couldn’t hide my smile. “I want to walk. You carry on”.
Then he left. I started again with my thoughts and walk. Again someone called me from behind.
“Do you mind if I walk with you”
“Yes I will mind. Leave me alone.” I wanted to yell at him but I couldn’t. He looked like a harmless person and I didn’t find wording to avoid him instantly. So tilt my head little. I thought he will take it as “NO” but my bad luck, he consider this as “YES”. So I have no choice left. We started walking towards Nariman point without speaking single word to each other. He is also looked engrossed in his thoughts.
Suddenly he held my hand and pulled me near him. I am about to shout at him but at that moment only, a very high speed car crossed me. If he was not there, I will probably going to Nariman Point as spirit. First time in evening, we saw each other properly, into each other’s eyes. He has a kind of kindness, innocence in his eyes, same as my fiancé. I immediately got feeling that he is a nice man.
“Are you going for suicide” He literally shouted on me.
“Do I look like that type?” I shouted also him.
A Smile broke on his face. We are again started walking. Cool breeze flowing and made me tie my hair.
“Thank you, for saving my life” Now I am avoiding eye contact with him as I shouted on the person who saved my life.
“This is my hobby. Haven’t you seen my photo in newspaper helping people after bomb blast in khau gali? You only took my name to HR Head for appreciation. You forgot already!! It was just last month only” He said while mockingly anger on his face.
“Hmm” Brave man, I said under my breath.
We reached Nariman point at 7:00 PM. This is one point where you can see sea three sides. Lights of Mumbai city on other side acted as decoration in that place. I love watching sea and sea waves. It gave me internal peace instantly. This place would be perfect if there is not so much of crowd. There are so many couples are sitting closely. Most of them are holding each other’s hands and resting on each other’s shoulder. It looked like couple paradise. Suddenly a kind of electricity flowed inside me. At that time I confronted myself “what I am doing, why I am here with him”. Although I don’t have any wrong intention, I started feeling guilty. Then I thought, I am coming here alone and I don’t own this place. Anyone can come over here. He is just a stranger who happened to work in my office. So Chill!!
This place is so much crowed that people are standing behind siting couple to grab the place as soon as they left. I am still looking for place while he already found a comfortable place to sit and asked me to join. I have no choice but to join him. There was huge ship in sea with lighting on front but it looked like a small boat (due to distance) same as we used to draw in our childhood. Waves are coming towards me with intention to take me away but broke down due to structural blocks at shore. Even nature has to face obstacle in life.
It was so peaceful until a boy with tea asked me (us).
“I don’t want. Thank you “
“Sir, buy a tea for madam, please. It is such a big day for you guys and you are not even buying a tea for her. Just 20 rupees” And he forcibly handed an incredibly small cup which contain 1 inch of tea.
He brought two cups and paid him 40 rupees. Tea tasted like same tea leaves are used for 10 time.
“Why you had buy this tiny amount of worst tea and what is big day”
“Today is Valentine day” He sipped his tea slowly.
Damn!! Why I came here today. TODAY!!! “That too with him” Damn, Damn, Damn.
That’s why there is so much of crowd and all couples. Most of them are having roses and gifts in their hands. They dress quite well and doing romantic stuff. And I have not spoken to my fiancé properly since morning. Sometimes I feel, this marriage is taking out all love from our relationship. When we were together, we make every day special and now we totally forget this special day.
I was forced to come out of my thoughts by his tap on my shoulder. He pointed in one direction. There are two cops are disturbing couples and someone is also clicking photographs. Couples are hiding their faces, running to avoid get clicked. Suddenly a kind of electricity flowed inside me. AGAIN!! What if I got clicked here? What if cops put us on jail? What will happen if my family know about it? What about my marriage? My face became pale. He saw my face and asked to leave from here slowly. We left that place separately. He went to cops and started speaking something in Marathi. This gave me scope to run away. After some distance we ran into each other again. I am still in shock and terror of being caught. We saw each other and suddenly started laughing. We laughed like hell and stopped only when our stomach started aching.
“I should click your picture and should show this to your fiancé” He said teasingly.
“Ya Ya, you should”. At that moment, I felt very light. It seems that I laughed so much after long time. A kind of burden which is on heart has melt down. We talked while walking along the marine drive. We talked about Mumbai weather, office polities, and secret office affairs. We don’t even realize that it already over 8:30 PM.
“OMG, I should run to catch train. I live in bhandup not in charni road like you. I have to change local also at dader” I turned towards road to look for an auto.
“Wait, I will drop you by bike. It is parked nearby. You wait here”
I searched in phone for any massage from my fiancé but there is none. I felt bad, very bad.
“Hop on” He told me and instead of dropping me to station, he took me to sardarji’s Pavbhaji wala. I have only told him that I like Pavbhaji but not expected him to treat me it.
There is so much of crowd outside his shop also. Obviously, today is Valentine Day. He told that this place is always crowded no matter what is the day. Waiting outside, I became restless. It’s already over 9 PM and we are still in line. Although I want to have this Pavbhaji badly as first, it is very famous and second I am dying from hunger, but I want to leave also as I have to go alone and my place is really very far. I told him that I am leaving.
“You don’t worry; I will drop you to station.”
“You will drop me till station but it is getting late and I have to walk till my place from station also. I can’t take risk. If you want to have it, please go ahead. I will take an auto for station.” I left immediately without waiting for his reply.
I looked for auto on road. I waited there around 15 mins but there is no sign of auto over there. Now I got really scared. I am at a place new to me that too at 9:20 PM. Suddenly I heard my name again from back but from same person. He has packed two pavbhaji with extra pavs and came with his bike.
“Hop on” I sat behind him quietly. I have no choice.
“I am sorry. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I also have a female friend with whom we hangout till 10 pm and she also lives in bhandup. She is never complaint about anything so thought it is ok for you also. I got parcels that you can have in local or at your flat. Station is hardly 5 mins from here” He handed over me parcels.
We reached local station in less than 5 min. He left me outside the station and I immediately went inside to catch 9:30 PM local but destiny has decided something else. All train got cancelled due to some technical error. Next train will around 10:30 PM. Now I got really scared. There is hardly anyone on station apart from some couples who are taking full advantage of deserted station. Now my phone also started ringing. My fiancé is calling me. My tears are started rolling out of my eyes. I couldn’t control them.
When I was moving to Mumbai for job at that time my fiancé told me to be safe. Please don’t roam out late in night and try to come home before 9 PM. Only you can take care of your safely. I will be not around there to help you. Desperately, I looked around for him. And I saw him (Stranger from office) coming towards me. I felt so relieved that I can’t explain. He told me he was waiting outside the station. When he heard announcement regarding train cancellation, he came running as I would be alone at station. Now dropping me home is his responsibility. Because of him I got delayed.
It’s already 9:45 PM. We hopped on his bike and left for my home. My fiancée is also calling continuously and I am not able to pick up the phone also. I am ashamed to tell him that I am out at this time with a stranger. I don’t know how he (fiancé) will react. I picked up the phone but couldn’t able to tell him where I am. I desperately want to tell but someone inside me stopping me. I think fear of losing him. We already have problems due to our family, marriage. I don’t want to lose him. So I lied to him that I got late in office and I am coming home with my senior who lives near my station.
After cutting phone, I cried loudly. Why, I don’t know. He silently opened the parcel and started eating on bike only. Then I realise, even I am hungry. I also started eating. I don’t know because of hunger or butter, Pavbhaji tastes blissful. I even ate most of his share also. Poor Guy!!
We left after eating towards my flat. Breeze turned out very cold now. After 30 mins he became very exhausted.
“Do you know how to drive a bike” He asked
“No, why you are asking”
“So that you can drive and I rest on back seat. I am not used to drive so long” He said slowly.
“What are you saying? You never came for long drive with your girlfriend? “ I asked little surprised.
“I don’t have any girlfriend” He said politely
“Aree, You told about your friend who lives near my place. She is not your girlfriend?”
“She is not girlfriend. She is my very good friend who happened to be a girl. Don’t you have guy friends?” He said sarcastically.
I felt ashamed. Yes, I do have guy friend, still I keep such thinking. Not every relation is love relation between a girl and boy. Sometimes they are best buddies, sometimes stranger who happened to spend time together. Now my guilt is gone. I thought I will tell truth about today to my fiancé. We have not spoken until bhandup railway station. It took us 1 hr 15 mins to reach station.
“So where do you stay, east or west?” He asked
“East, please take right turn from next signal. Stop near that black gate” We reached my flat at around 11:30 PM.
“Could you please bring some water and a sweater for me? I need to go back again. I promise I will not hold you or my friend for late. You guys live very far.” He said exhausted.
He left after 10 mins. I waited for him few mins as he waited for me outside station. Night is taken her beauty in silence. Suddenly I got massage tone. When I looked down the sender of message, it is from him. I smiled instantly after reading that massage.
“You can leave. My bike will not cancel like your local train”