I felt numb. I could no longer think anything. In a way I was glad that I couldn’t think. Thinking makes me feel alive. I much preferred my current passive stage. Like the pet dog wagging his tail behind the master, I too walked behind him.He opened the glass door for me and I went in.
“Who did you speak to Nina?” I heard him ask
I shrugged my shoulder.
There were 5 people inside the office. Three ladies and two men.
One middle aged lady with blood red lipstick and permed hair got up from her seat and sashayed to where we were standing and introduced herself
“I am Mrs D’souza, how may I help you?”
“We are here to pick up an Air ticket” I heard Beautiful Eyes speak. He then explained that his girlfriend had made a phone reservation the previous day.
I watched Mrs. D’souza turning around and asking her colleagues
“Who made a Dubai booking?”
” The Malaysian passenger?” I heard someone asking
“No” Beautiful Eyes spoke
“Yes” I heard my own voice speaking.
He looked at me, rather he was staring at me, I could see the frown lines on his forehead, they were getting closer and closer. I wondered if frowning makes small eyes look considerably bigger?
“Have a seat madam” The lady who was sitting on the far right side desk pointed to the blue chairs in front of her desk.
Beautiful Eyes started to walk towards her and the I followed quickly.
“Hi I am Smitha” She introduced herself
Beautiful Eyes introduced himself and I waited for him to introduce me.
He pulled the chair and sat down
“I am Nina” I smiled hoping she won’t notice the hurricane brewing between the lovers.
“I need you to fill this form. Did you bring your passport with you”
She passed a form to me
“No” I replied
“I need a copy of your passport”
“ok.I can bring it next time”
I started to fill the form.
There were too many things to fill, maiden name, married name, marital status, address..blah blah.. Why do they need all these information just to issue a ticket?
I looked at Beautiful Eyes. He took the plastic bag from my lap and was busy counting the money. But I knew he was busy ignoring me. We were supposed to be lovers, but anyone who saw us, it was obvious, there was thick layers of ice separating us.
“Malaysia is a beautiful country No?” asked Smitha
If that was an attempt to break the ice, she was wrong. Each time the word Malaysia was mentioned, another layer of ice was added to the already existing thick blocks of ice.
“hmm” I nodded my head, hoping she would just shut up.
“Which part of Malaysia are you from?” She asked
I stared at her. Shut up lady, I tried to tell her. Don’t you see how much trouble you have got me in to? It is not that I purposely hid the truth from Beautiful Eyes. I never thought it was a big issue and seeing the way he was behaving, it obviously was a big issue.
But I was not good in telepathy. She was looking at me and she still had that trade travel agent smile on her face. The service with a smile type of smile.
“Penang” I replied
“Does your parents still live there?”
“Oh” She replied.
I stared at her and she probably knew it was time to shut up, because she was now looking at Beautiful Eyes and at the money he counted and placed on her desk.
“Have you finished counting?” She asked Beautiful Eyes
He nodded his head.
She took the money, counted and then called Mrs D’souza. Mrs. D’souza counted the money again and placed it in a brown envelope and walked towards the back of the office.
“I can only issue the ticket after getting a copy of your passport” Smitha spoke
“I will bring it on Monday morning” I replied
“ok. Thank you for using Sita travels” She got up, shook our hands again and walked in front of us and opened the door for us.
The outside was bright and shiny and I squinted my eyes automatically. From the corner of my eyes, I could see Beautiful Eyes walking towards his bike
“Wait” I ran after him.
He was leaning on his bike and was staring at me
“Why did you lie to me?” He asked
“huh? When did I lie to you?”
“You didn’t tell me you are a Malaysian? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I didn’t think it was a big issue”
“What else have you been hiding from me Nina?”
The truth was there were a lot of things that I was hiding from him. A lot of things about my family. There was no way I could tell him all that was going on in my family. But I wanted to. I wanted to open up and tell him the truth about my family. But I was afraid that he may not love me the way he loves me, once he knew the truth.
This day was fast becoming my worst nightmare.I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.
“Oh Nina, I am sorry, I wasn’t trying to make you cry. I was just upset that you never told me that you are a Malaysian. But it is ok. I am not angry with you”
“I wasn’t trying to hide it from you. It is just that except for the passport, I no longer feel I am a Malaysian. I came to India when I was 10 years old, I have never gone back since then and at home my mother was afraid that people would take advantage of us if they knew we are foreigners, so she forbade us from ever mentioning the word Malaysia!” I whispered
“It is ok baby. Come let us go”
He reversed the bike, started the engine, wore his helmet and waited for me to sit down.
He lifted the visor of his helmet and asked
“Do you want to go to Kolar?”
“hmm” I replied
“Nina, I am hungry, can we eat first?” He asked me as we reached the village near our favourite spot
“Sure” I replied
Soon we passed the restaurant we had been the last time we came to Kolar
I tapped on his shoulder and pointed the restaurant.
“Too spicy” He lifted the visor and replied
“Where are we going?” I asked him
“There should be some restaurants in the town”
Soon we reached Kolar bus station and there was a restaurant across the bus stand. He parked the bike in front and we got off.
Everyone at the restaurant was staring at us. We found an empty table and sat down.
“Can you order dosai?” He asked me
“What kind of dosai do you want?”
“plain” He replied
I ordered dosai for both of us.
While waiting for dosai, I told him about my citizenship. In a way I was hoping that he would tell me about the money. In a way it felt like, I told you my secret and now you have to tell your secret. But he didn’t. he never told me where he got the money from and I could never ask him.
I felt I was becoming Eva Braun. May be she loved Herr Wolf so much that she never saw the dark clouds surrounded him. Like me she too would have seen only the silver lining.
I looked outside. On the left side of the bus stand there was a huge movie poster and I tried to read it. Beautiful Eyes turned his head to see what I was looking at and he too noticed the poster
“What movie is that?” He asked
“I have no idea”
When the waiter brought the bill, I asked him and he replied
“Geethanjali madam, Telugu movie. Best Movie madam”
“Nina, can you ask him when is the next movie show?” Beautiful Eyes asked
“What for? It is in Telugu. I don’t understand Telugu”
“Can you ask?” He was getting irritated with me and I asked the waiter
He checked the watch and asked the waiter
“Where is the theater?”
Waiter looked at me and I translated in Kannada
“There! He pointed”
The theatre was next to the bus station
“Come Nina, let us go”
“What? No, I am not watching any Telugu movie. I don’t understand Telugu, besides there would be bed bugs in the theater”
“Come on Nina, let us go” He grabbed my hand and started to run towards the theater.