Wham! A deafening sound of crunched metal. Followed by a whoosh. Even before I can react, my head is bumped against the front seat. The car jolts to a stop. A black veil descends and I lose my consciousness.
Probably only a few seconds. Cannot be more than that. Because when I open my eyes, I am still on my seat. The cab driver struggles with the air bag. A SUV stands in front of the cab with a dimpled rear. My head hurts and makes me dizzy. It all vaguely comes back to me. It was all because of me. I can’t help but blame myself. If only I’d behaved like a sensible human being. But I should probably start at the beginning.
I’d had a very bad day. The non-consequential work related stuff but enough to make me irritable by the time it was over. I decided to go ahead with my long due grocery shopping with the hope of getting at least some things done. I called the local taxi service and booked my ride.
The taxi driver who came to pick me up was a young guy with a very handsome face. He smiled and greeted me with a cheerful, “Hello sunshine”, when I reached for the door.
I was too distracted to properly respond. So I merely grunted something. He scowled a little at me but kept silent otherwise. A little while later he started talking again. He told me that he was a student of history at the University of Chicago and had read a lot about India and was very fond of Indians. Though pleasantly surprised I was still very far from feeling any better about it. Yet again, I grunted in affirmative and went back to looking outside the window. He continued his small talk while I vaguely wondered why he was flirting with me. I definitely didn’t look like a wealthy customer to tip him generously.
But he caught me completely off guard by what he said next, “You are very pretty.”
I was taken aback. After all, it wasn’t every day that I received compliments from handsome white men! Why, these days I rarely got any real compliment from even my husband. Only except maybe when I was really dressed up, he hardly noticed how I looked anymore. So in spite of everything I felt good! And I blushed!
“Oh, you just blushed. Didn’t you?” exclaimed he, his eyes fixed on the rear view mirror.
I smiled embarrassedly. It was very awkward.
He whirled back from his seat and said, “You really are very pretty. Will you go on a lunch date with me? I have an hour’s break in class. I work nights so cant invite you for dinner. Please don’t say your daddy won’t allow.”
It was the second shock in two minutes. Till now, I had known such drama to be possible only in movies. It was a little unnerving to experience it in real life. Words failed me as I looked at him. But then it struck me. Such a nice guy he was. Sensing that my day hadn’t been so good he was just trying to cheer me up. I was so touched by his kind behaviour.
I smiled and thanked him and said that I was sufficiently cheered up now. But he insisted that he was serious about the lunch date and wasn’t merely trying to cheer me up. Feeling a little perplexed I told him, in that case I was sorry but I was married.
He took both of his hands off the steering wheel in mock frustration and at that precise moment a silver SUV came in front of us. I screamed to draw his notice but before he could do anything, we had hit the car.
“Can I drop you off here?” the cab driver asks.
“What?” I ask, still feeling a little dizzy.
“Your store’s round the corner. You could walk. It will take me some time to get done with the police reports and other formalities.”
I feel really bad for him. “Of course I can walk but are you sure you can handle?”
“Absolutely. Don’t worry. You carry on.” He assures.
I start walking. He calls back and says, “Don’t forget the lunch date. Your husband won’t mind, I am sure. After all, you broke my car.”
And I blush again, in spite of everything and the dizziness.
Moral of the story: Never encourage/engage your driver in nonsense talks. You may not be lucky like me to survive without a scratch. And if you still do, be ready to pay the price. Again, you may not be lucky like me to get away with a lunch date with a handsome guy.
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