‘So, you must have been to lot of exotic places?’ she asked, I could feel the spark in her voice.
‘Not a lot exactly. There are so many places here to see in one lifetime’.
A pause, a long thought, some sure silence, ‘only if you’re endowed with eyes’, suddenly I realized I went a little too far.
‘Ohh, never mind. Tell me, what people you met? And, girls? Don’t you dare to lie…’
Blind people certainly have ability to sense any physical or emotional commotion. Before I could dive into apologies, she changed the mood.
‘Ahh, Aunt Tessy, don’t tease me. You know me. I do ride with people, but girl- ahhh never been my cup of tea’
She smiled, ‘poor chap you are! Well, what you think about this lady? Game for a ride?’
‘A blind date’, (shit) I blurted!
She jumped, ‘In true sense my boy! Let a woman teach you a thing or two! A Blind Date!’ a miles long smile, stretched with brightened wrinkles, and a tinkle in eyes.
I'd never been on a date with someone blind and could feel her emotions translated well into my goose bumps. Should I, shouldn’t I?
She could sense just everything, ‘don’t answer now and just not for me. Take your time’.
‘We’re riding next weekend aunt. Just let me decide, to where?’ watching her face brightening up, I continued, ‘any preferences?’
‘First, we would be on a Date; so, no Aunt, treat me like your Lady, you bum!’ she laughed ‘and, I have never seen anything, but you know I don’t like this traffic, it numbs the senses. Take me somewhere I can feel nature, touch the best of it and be just by myself….. and of course… with you too!’
‘Time to say Good night aunt, see you next Sunday’
‘It’s just Tessy for a week, we’re on date’ she mumbled, ‘Good night’
‘Good night Tessy!’
I rode my bullet and left the Ashram where she’s been living since her husband died some 20 years ago. She never told me about her life, just the stories of ballroom dances and romances. Our affair was just about a year old, when I met her and found something resonating between us. Since then, I visit her regularly and we share our stories!
I couldn’t sleep whole night thinking, “Would she enjoy it? Would I manage to translate the beauty into her imagination well? Knowing her, instinctively I knew she’d make this easier. And just like that I found the perfect destination. I knew she’d love it!
The day arrived. I reached Ashram at 6 AM, she was there at gate. All I needed to do was sign a document and take her out. Aunt Martha, Asha, and other were there to see us off. That 200 kilometers ride was some grandeur for Aunt Tessy and her mates. Their excitement was contagious. Dressed in cool denim blue jeans and long kurta, she had a bag full of goodies to feed an army. Her friends helped her sit comfortably on bike.
‘Ready for ride?’
Digging her bag, she brought out her pair of blue sunglasses, ‘they say I look like that Chopra chick of Ishaqzade’ she chuckled.
‘Tessy’ she interrupted.
‘Ohh, Apologies madam! Tessy, place your hands on my waist and rest your back on backrest. It would take about an hour to get out of the city, and your guide will be at your service’ I smiled, ‘and you surely look like Parineeti‘
Kicking engine to life, we were off amidst cheers from all. A ride for a true Blind Date!
‘Tessy, we are entering the city’, I tried to start the conversation, ‘right now we’re on Western Express Highway that connects the ends of Mumbai. Only the fortunate have seen this road empty’
‘I’m feeling this air after a long time. I don’t even remember the last time..’ a long pause, ‘…he had a Yamaha he loved so much that even I felt envious’ she continued, ‘you don’t find someone very easily who falls in love with a blind lady. You know, he was a gem’.
It was again me breaking the silence, ‘we’re now riding parallel to Powai…
..lake. I can smell it!’ she completed before I’d, ‘I told you I hate traffic. Where’re we going boy? Even sister didn’t tell me’
‘Tessy, that’s a surprise! I am sure you'd love it’ I tried to hide my nervousness, ‘well, was telling you about Powai, it’s a charm in evening and a water reservoir for the City’
‘Don’t be nervous kiddo.’ Damn, she read me again!
‘Now a small ride on Eastern Express Highway, that runs almost parallel with Western and we’d be crossing Airoli Bridge riding over the creek’.
‘I love seas. He told me it doesn’t have many colors, but it’s too moody. Shades of blue and also orange if Sun is in mood to play with it… We spent so much of time on Juhu beach, in those days it was so good to visit’, she replied revealing her love for waters.
‘Tessy! You okay?’
‘Hiiiiii, don’t know when I fell asleep. Breeze on the bridge was so good’ she chuckled.
‘No problem girl, just don’t lose your grip on my waist’
Riding across Navi Mumbai, talking, laughing we took our first stop at Panvel Snacks. Some tea and just one vada-paav each (she was so adamant about the picnic food she was carrying), we went on to NH 17.
‘600 kilometers and its Goa.’
‘…the place where I met Virat’ old faint memories of romance could easily be experienced ‘he said, he had never seen a beauty like me. Is it true?’
I smiled, ‘Yes Tessy, you’re still the prettiest girl’, first time she mentioned his name.
‘You are all liars, Man!’
Through discussion on geology of the Sahyadris, curves, mining activities, monsoon-rides on NH 17, small towns, big resorts at outskirts, expensive nights, poor lifestyle, and lame jokes, we turned right from Alibaug.
‘I could smell it; I know where we are going’ the James Bond in her said.
‘Don’t be a spoilsport, and let my surprise be the one till end’ I grumbled.
She kept quiet; I knew she was making fun of me. ‘Just a few minutes and we’ll be there, and don’t keep quiet Tessy’.
She burst out laughing, ‘you’re cute, kiddo! I guess we’ve reached’ her sensed situation coincided perfectly with my killing the engine.
‘Yeah yeah, I know you did it on purpose. Leave it. Yes, we’ve!’ I replied ‘stay seated and let me put my bike on stands before I help you getting down.’
She obediently waited as I put it on stand and helped her. Taking her wrinkled pale palm in my hand and her big goodie bag on my back, I led her to the beach.
|A ride to remember|
‘Tessy, leave your sandals here’ I continued as she obliged ‘the weather is in our favor today. It’s cloudy but not raining. The orange sky and cool blue sea matches your gorgeous denims. You like it?’
‘For sure! It’s Nagaon Beach, isn’t it? It was 1985 when Rishi Kapoor had that song shot here, I could still smell the love in the air’ again trying to find something in her past, firming her hold she said ‘That was perhaps the last movie we went together.’
We walked along the shore, without talking; let the waves kiss our foot. We sat by the sea and I told her how at the far end a lonely lighthouse guides hundreds of boats. We even made a castle of sand discussing the story of Alibaug Fort, vast white sands of Nagaon. A group of children playing football there invited us to join. Few hours there, football, fun in water, dancing even, we relished the cookies, khakhra, chocolates and a lot of snacks from her bag.
Few clicks, another walk across the shore and it was time to leave. I could feel the emotions that attached Tessy with that beach and those kids too and so promised them to bring her back to Nagaon soon. She put on her lovely blue shades and kids ran behind us till that old bridge across the creek.
‘You game for some speed, Tessy!’ I was asked to be back by 6 PM and it was already 3:30.
She tightened her grip on my waist and yelled, ‘Hell yeah!’
Leaving behind the memorable day we reached her Ashram just in time. Guess what? Her mates were waiting. Seriously, women and gossip go hand in hand; how quickly they indulged into the tales Tessy had from the trip, from traffic to tea, from highways to beach, from her boyfriend (me!) to the kids!
Someone reminded her about a waiting sole at the gate. Escorted by sister she came, took my hands in her, signaled to bow and planted a kiss on my cheek.
‘Thank you, Blushy baby’ she chuckled.
‘For you, anytime Tessy!’
|vast white sands and calm beach of Nagaon|
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