I have always been a reserved guy. I go out, but with limited people – all boys. Also, I was yet to come to terms with the idea of going out with girl(s), friends I am talking about – the idea that it’s very normal to go out with friends of the opposite sex without thinking too much, that they can be equally fun as boys. I have had friends who are girls though. However, I somehow dodged the romantic rapport for a long time. Not that I am complaining – just that I didn’t think someone nailed that very spot in my heart to date. But there is that one friend that I saw the potential of doing that. My brother once described one of his friends using the word “good”. More than the literal meaning of that word itself, the way he said it (the word ‘good’) was so righteous that I have been hesitant to use that word casually ever since thinking- if that thing fits the definition of “good” that my brother has stirred in my mind. Why I am saying all this is because the girl I mentioned is just as good.
So, she has been pursuing BDS out of the valley and here I am in Kathmandu. As it happened, our semester break happened to happen almost at the same time, which is very rare. She was also in Kathmandu for a few days. Now then, we were normally chatting. I don’t know where all that courage came from but I casually asked her out – No, not for a date, but a day out. What was even more surprising was the fact that she actually agreed. Now I didn’t know what to do. I had no idea what I was going to say or do when we met, but at the same time, I knew I wanted to see her. After all that sunk in, we decided to meet on that Tuesday – meaning the day after tomorrow. Next up, all I had to do was to butter my brother so that he would lend me his bike. I asked and he did not throw one bit of a tantrum which he normally would and actually gave me the keys straight away. I didn’t see this coming either. Now, this was feeling all dreamy. I took the keys and took the bike for a test ride- just in case it needed some attention. The next day, I washed it on my own taking all the time I had.
The day finally came. I was all ready – bathed and neat putting on my leather jacket to match the matte color of the bike. All I needed to do before I picked her up was to feed the bike some fuel. But I was so nervous and excited at the same time about picking her up and actually going out on a bike that I forgot to visit the fuel station. I only remembered it just before I saw her next to a pharmacy she told me to remember. She had put on a white kurta to go with blue jeans and a thin shawl and casual slippers. Makeup? Almost none or at least I could not figure that out. She looked lovely, and that would be an understatement. All we did after we saw each other was exchange ‘hellos’ and wave – that’s it. Then she sat behind me with one hand on her lap with a shawl wrapped and another on my shoulder. I could feel the awkward tension going on. I took the bike to the fuel station near Bhadrakali temple and filled the tank.
After clearing the bill, I went to the washroom. Just as I stepped out of the washroom, my foot stepped over a rock – the size of my fist, and twisted my ankle, left one. I tried to hide the pain as I went to her. I tried to shrug off the pain and tried to get on with things, but the pain just didn’t let me do that. My attempt to put a brave face was not working as she could see the anguish all over my face and body language. I was absolutely cursing myself – for being so negligent, for going to the toilet when it was not even required at the time, for not having the fuel tank full beforehand. I didn’t know what to say or do. Then she smiled and said “I am not going to let you ruin this day. Give me the keys.” I was awestruck. She snapped her fingers and said “Keys?”. I gave her the keys and watched the scene unfold before me. She also took the helmet and took the bike around the fuel station and stood before me “Come on. Hop in!” I still could not believe that she did all this and that too like a pro. As I sat behind her, I could not be any happier about twisting my ankle.
I was lost for words with how things were unfolding. The twist of my ankle had broken the ice. It was a blessing in disguise after all – the best I could have asked for. We were talking normally by then. I tightened my legs around her – only enough to make it easier for her to balance without making her feel uncomfortable. Just as we were talking about various kinds of stuff, I took my head near her shoulder as I would do with any of my friends or mostly brother while having a conversation during the ride. As she was concentrating on the road, I could peek at her from around the corner of her shoulder. I could see her nose clearly and the lashes of her right eye. She looked even more beautiful up close, from that distance. We made a stop at Patan to eat something. After a while, she proposed to go to Taudaha. I was chuffed because I could enjoy a bike ride with her for a significant distance. During our ride together, while we were talking, I discovered that she actually passed the license trial in her first attempt – 2 months earlier than my successful 3rd attempt. No wonder she rode so comfortably. She knew every little nuance of riding a bike. Just as we were about to reach Ekantakuna, an over-speeding bike from the opposite direction whistled past us very near to us in our lane. She even managed to take a dig at him. She didn’t curse, though. Her face had turned red. To see this side of her up close was a treat – she looked adorable even then, if not more. She parked the bike in the designated area. We took a stroll around the lake for a while and decided to sit on a spot near the lake. As I glanced at my mobile, it read “12:43”. It had been exactly 2 hours and 14 minutes since I picked her up and exactly 114 minutes since I sat behind her on the bike for the first time. The next time I took a look at my watch, it was almost half-past 2. Well, time flies when you’re having a good time they said and my oh my- I didn’t realize how long we had been talking. After some time, we decided to have some food. So, we entered a restaurant and left the place at around half past 4.
The keys were with her only. She brought the bike from the parking area and before I sat behind, she asked me, “You’re comfortable, right?” Little did she know that I had never been so comfortable. But I gave a measured reply, “Yes. Are you? ” She looked at me, said nothing but smiled and that was an answer enough. When we returned nothing extra happened, only that my face was almost leaning against her right shoulder while we talked all the way back. As we went past Kupandole, I called my brother to come near Maitighar where she would drop herself, and then my brother would ride us home from there. He said he would not come, but I knew he would. We reached Maitighar at around 6:00. She got off the bike. She said, “So, Can I ride the bike next time as well?” I replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll let my ankle know when to twist.” And before I could wave her goodbye, we saw my brother about 100m from us. Then she hurriedly waved me goodbye without even looking at me. I just kept watching her, with a beaming smile throughout till she disappeared behind the buildings. Everything, every moment of that day, of that trip felt surreal and felt like I was dreaming. Only a pat on my head from my brother would stir me. Maybe I was dreaming, maybe not, I just tried to stay in that moment as long as I could for everything felt ever so right, even the twist of my ankle or the twist of my fate.