First Pinky informed Scotty to take her to a slipper store, and to proceed there without touching any shops that were in the line of sight of Kalyan Silks main entrance. This took Pinky and Scotty, into an inextricable matrix of gulleys, squalid homes, naked children washing up at taps, and they wandered it seemed in circles, turning here at a familiar looking turn, and there at a tree that they surely saw earlier, getting more and more lost in a maze in a place that she until then had thought she knew well enough. Finally, on the behest of Scotty to “Check the map for god sakes? You are worse than a guy”, Pinky whipped out her phone angrily, and asked google to take her to Brigade road, where Scotty knew would be no dearth of slipper stores for women.
Pinky decided not to ask how he knew that. “It seems a bit far for a slipper store, don’t you think?” asked Pinky.
“Would you rather I take you home instead?” he snapped Scotty, and the idea of being taxied home on Scotty’s black chariot, with the entire apartment cheering on, was a convincing argument for a seven kilometer ride. Besides, she could be sure that it was nowhere near Kalyan silks or its entrance. She focused on the navigation instructions, holding on to the rear metal handle of the bike with all her life. Considering her earlier plan to escaping a bike by jumping off of it, she realized that she may now slip off without really planning for it, especially since she had never sat on a bike before. She sat now with both legs sideways like a demure girl of the seventies. Scotty must have judged her for that, but the last thing she wanted was the intimate proximity of Scotty anywhere between her legs or chest. And if that was traditional, then so be it.
At Brigade road, the bustle of traffic seemed almost welcoming. They stopped at the store that was right in the center of crossroad, “for the best choice of slippers!” said Scotty. Amidst a lot of curious questions on how she was slipperless, they finally bought a green slipper with a twirling brown stamp that was to go between the toe and the forefinger, that Scotty looked on with a look of bewildered amusement…until of course she put them on and squealed as the blisters on her leg came in contact the slippers.
“Are you Ok?” he asked, his mouth falling at the sight of the gory red plague-like rings on her feet. “Shall I get you something to put on it? Wait…” He disappeared, and she waited there for a good twenty minutes, sitting on the pavement, watching as people looked her over strangely.
When he arrived, he held a cloth bandaid, “There’s not a damn clinic in this place. Its just flooded with shops and bars. I actually got this from a restaurant. What if someone got hurt? You have to go out of the city to get hurt?”
He had picked her leg up, and placed it on his lap, without a thought as he blabbered on about what a stupid city it was, running the length of her leg with the bandaid. Sitting there with her leg propped on his lap, she had to admit that she had judged him a bit too harshly, and perhaps she would now pray that he get a better bride than Julie or the naggy scrawny hag that she had wished for him earlier in the day.
“That’s done. And isn’t it splendind” He said, as if he had completed a work of art, “Now how about we catch that lunch that you owe me?”
Her thoughts for once wasn’t fumbled. She had spent the whole day being unassertive and paid for it. The least she could do to this man was let him down early. “Um…listen…here’s the thing. I…I don’t want to go for lunch.”
“Oh” he said surprised, “Is it a diet? You aren’t hungry?”
To tell the truth, she was ravenous. “Nnno…I don’t want to have lunch with you…”
This somehow did not come out as deliciously as she imagined. So she just looked away at her feet.
“I see.” Said Scotty quietly. When the silence grew longer, her eyes found its way to his, and he asked, “And why is that?”
Her words from a hollow tube, languishing in mucky grease, “Because, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression.”
Now he looked surprised. “And what is that?”
“That I am into you. That I want to marry you or something…”
Now he looked genuinely surprised, “You are like the craziest chick I have seen. Why would I assume something like that?”
The words came out more easily now. “Because you are so hot. You just assume that all the girls want to go out with you. And I am not like that. Ok? You can go and marry your Julie…”
Somehow…every word she was saying was making something worse. And she felt moer and more embarrassed by herself.
At the end of it, he looked vexed, but still managed a smile “Can we please have lunch? I know a good place here that I came a long time back. And I’m sorry if I sounded like I was hitting on you. Yes, I do find you interesting…refreshing even. But I was kinda hoping to go as friends? If you guys have such a concept here in India….Its possible for two people to be just friends? God I am so tired of this place already…”
He was stupid and condescending, but her hunger decided to overlook that.
And if she had any further doubts on the matter of lunch, it was sorted out with a crack of thunder.