I wanted to be with the love of my life as early as possible, so instead of wasting my time taking a bus from the college, I took an auto and got off near the bus station. It didn’t take me too long to spot him. He was leaning on the electricity post outside the bus station and scanning all the passengers who were coming out of the bus station. He looked so different from the rest of the people at the bus station. He was more fairer, with a neat Chinese face, small nose and..
‘No, I am not going to think about the lips’. I told myself.
I walked towards him and because he was looking ahead, he didn’t see me coming towards him.
I sneaked up to him and shouted
He looked stunned. Then I saw the happiness in his eyes. The happiness turned to surprise
“Which bus did you take?”
“I took an auto”
“oh! Come let us go” He started to walk towards his bike parked by the side of the restaurant.
“Jomon” I whispered
“In front of the restaurant. I am going to walk to other side, meet me there”
I quickly turned and started to walk as fast as my legs would carry me. My heart was pounding. First it was George’s letter, then it was dating Arjun and now if Jomon saw me with Beautiful Eyes, he and the rest of the Mallu gang wouldn’t leave me alone. Did he see me? I hoped not.
I started to walk by the side of the main road, hoping Beautiful Eyes understood which direction I would be heading. I was afraid to turn back and look. Eventually I heard the sound of bike approaching me. I was so relieved.
He stopped the bike next to me and passed his back pack to me. While trying to sit and at the same time adjust the back pack, I held his shoulder to get my balance. He turned to look at me. He was grinning
“Why are you smiling?” I asked
“I wasn’t smiling”
“Really? then why did you show me all your teeth?”
“That is because, I wanted to show you that I brushed my teeth this morning”
“Ready?” he asked
“Gosh! Ready to go!”
After about half an hour of ride, I felt we weren’t going through the usual route. But then again, I have zero sense of direction. May be I made a mistake.
A little while later I saw a sign board that said Hoskotte.
I tapped his shoulder and brought my lips close to his ears and asked
“neevu elli hogidare?”
“What?” He shouted
“Where are we going?”
“So you noticed finally!”
“That we aren’t going to the same place”
“Where are we going?” I asked again
“You will see soon”
I looked ahead of us. The road was beautiful, almost straight road with trees lined on either side, from far it self I could see the red blossoms on the trees.
“It is so beautiful” I leaned towards him and whispered in his ears
“I know”He shouted over the roar of his bike engine
“Thank you” I whispered again
“You are welcome”
It was a very hot day, yet the ride was so pleasant, at some stretches of the road, I saw branches of trees from either side of the road meeting neat the center of the road and creating a leafy canopy. It felt so good and refreshing on a hot May afternoon.
There were Agricultural fields on either side of the road. Why are the fields so barren? I wondered.
‘You idiot how can anything grow under this scorching sun?’ I asked myself
Every once in while, we came across small villages with houses painted green or yellow. They all looked like boxes. Some how the village houses lacked the charm that houses in Kerala had. There was something beautiful about Kerala houses. Thatched roof, white washed walls, clean courtyard! That is such a beautiful sight. One day I have to take Beautiful Eyes to Kerala and show him how beautiful the land is.
‘Yeah right, where are you planning to take him? Chengannur house?’ Sensible one asked
I ignored her question. I knew it was a valid question. But some questions, how ever valid, should never be asked, because some questions do not have any answers.
“Look” Beautiful eyes pointed to my left. I saw a little boy herding a group of buffalo. The boy must have been 7 or 8 years old and he held a long stick in his hand. But the buffaloes were certainly bigger and stronger than him. Yet they listened to his commands.
Soon I noticed the rocky hills. Do I call them rocky hills? I wasn’t sure what to call them. It was hills made of boulders of different sizes, not one hill, not two hills.
Hills after hills of boulders. Beautiful smooth boulders.
“It is so beautiful” I screamed.
He started to slow down the speed and I looked around. On the left side, a little far away from the main road, I saw a village. He parked the bike by the side of the road and we both got off. I gave the back pack to him and stretched my back. The bag was heavy and my back was aching. I wondered what he was carrying inside. Before I could even open my mouth and talk, we were surrounded by kids from the village. They were all staring at him. It took me a while to figure it out. They would have never seen a Naga before.
They started to ask a thousand question/second.
“Nina can you answer?” Beautiful Eyes was looking at me
“Why? Oh Don’t tell me, you didn’t learn to speak Kannada yet?”
“I can’t. It is so difficult to learn”
When one of the boys asked him something, Beautiful Eyes shook his head and said
Everyone started to laugh.
“Why are they laughing?” He looked at me puzzled.
“nah don’t worry” I spoke.
Then one of the boys in the group asked me while pointing his hands at Beautiful Eyes
“Where is he from?”
“Where is that?” he asked
“Far away” I replied
“How far away?” He asked
“Far far away”
“Is it another country?”
I looked at Beautiful Eyes. I understood suddenly why he is fighting a war. Because it was obvious even after this many years being part of India, not many Indians even knew where Nagaland was.
“hmm” I nodded.
“Nina, come let us go.” he started to walk up a pathway that led to the back of the houses. Soon we were climbing up the rocks. Actually he was climbing and then pulling me up. He seemed to have no trouble climbing all the rocks even while carrying such a heavy back pack, while I was struggling. This was the same woman who once climbed every single tree in Chengannur house. What happened to me?
“Where are you going?” I had to ask. I was getting too frustrated. First of all it was hot, secondly my hands and legs were hurting. This was not my idea of a quality time with the man I love. This was nothing but torture.
“Little bit more” He spoke calmly
“little bit more, ninte ammayi appante thala(your father in law’s head!!)”
“What did you say?” He asked
“Nothing” I grumbled, then I realized what exactly did I say. His father is law would be my father. Methran Thambi’s son! I started to laugh
“Why are you laughing?”
“No. I didn’t laugh”
“I saw you laughing”
“No I was just showing you my teeth. I also brushed my teeth this morning”
“God Nina, you are insufferable”
Finally he stopped climbing and I found us under a huge boulder, the top of the boulder extended almost three feet overhead
“Is this thing going to fall on my head?” I pointed the boulder to him
“It didn’t in the last few centuries, I won’t know about today”
“Do you always say get lost when you are lost for words?”
“There. my theory is correct” He started to laugh.
I walked a bit farther from where he was and sat down. From the corner of my eyes, I could see him using the back pack as a pillow and laying down.
I guess he was right. I normally never say get lost to anyone. That is because I normally have the last word. But it was different with him. He always had the last word.
Sore loser! That should be my name.
“Hey, do you want some water?” I heard him asking
“Sure” The moment I heard the word water, I started to feel thirsty, I realized my lips were almost dry.
“Here, he reached across and passed the water bottle to me.
Did he even notice that I was cross with him? Did it not bother him? I wondered
“Nina, are you hungry?”
I shook my head
“I have some biscuits and chocolates, do you want?”
I shook my head. I wasn’t hungry.
My back was hurting, so I used my hand to massage my back
“Do you want me to massage your back?”
“No” I shook my head
“Here, use this” He pushed the bag towards me. You can use it as a pillow and lay down”
I adjusted the bag and leaned against it.
From where I sat, I could see the highway down in the valley. There were very few vehicles on the road. On the far right corner I could see part of the village that we saw before coming up the hill.
That was it. Civilization was just a stone throw away, yet we were far from everything and everyone. It felt like we were in our own palace and The King and the Queen were in their chambers!